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Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing Our Food System
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July 20, 2006
(rebroadcast June 14, 2007)

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Burning Sugar Cane in Argentina Sugar is close to becoming a cultural institution here in North America and is found in a countless number of foods that we consume daily. The media looks to sugar on a rather frequent basis to satisfy the "declining population health" segments of the nightly news. While these segments could arguably not be frequent enough, there is a whole side to sugar rarely touched on.

Like with many crops, fruits and vegetables, sugar production comes with hidden costs. Sugarcane represents the primary crop from which refined sugar originates, and its current methods of cultivation and production are taking a toll on the environment and on the human beings who are part of the process.

Join us as we look past the health concerns of our sugar-driven food system, and look to solutions and alternatives to a commodity that seems to present very little choice for the general public.


Dr. Jason Clay - Vice-President, Center for Conservation Innovation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - Jason has spent more than 20 years working with human rights and environmental organizations. More recently, Jason has been engaged in detailed examinations of the social and environmental impacts of commodity production. Clay was founder and editor of the award-winning Cultural Survival Quarterly, the largest circulation anthropology and human rights publication in the world. Jason studied anthropology and Latin American studies at Harvard University, economics and geography at the London School of Economics, and anthropology and international agriculture at Cornell University where he received his Ph.D. in 1979. Jason sits on the Board of Protected Harvest and is the author of "World Agriculture and the Environment".

Adony Melathopoulos - Research Technician, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada - Working out of the Beaverlodge Research Farm in Beaverlodge, Alberta, Adony studies ways to manage pests and diseases on Honey Bee farms. Adony graduated from Burnaby's Simon Fraser University and sits on the Communications committee for the Canadian Assocation of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA). Adony recently compiled an article for the Canadian Honey Council's web site titled "Honey as Canada's Sustainable and Ethical Sweetener."

Reykia Fick - Public Education & Outreach, TransFair Canada - TransFair Canada is a national non-profit certification and public education organization promoting Fair Trade Certified to improve the livelihood of developing world farmers and workers.

David Richard - Publisher, Vital Health Publishing - Vital Health publishes authors who can expose health-related problems accurately and with integrity, clarify the issues, and provide workable solutions. David first authored the book "Stevia Rebaudiana: Nature's Sweet Secret" in 1996. David was featured in a New York Times headline story on the food disparagement laws (June 1, 1999), and he also made national news in 1998 when his Stevia book was nearly burned by the FDA in the warehouse of one of his Texas distributors.

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip - Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)

Additional Audio

Jason Clay

  1. Intense water usage for sugarcane farming and production is draining river around the globe. LISTEN
  2. Nutrient pollution from sugarcane farming is illustrated using the Florida Everglades as an example. LISTEN
  3. The WWF is currently assisting a large soft drink manufacturer to reduce their water usage by encouraging them to address sugarcane farming/production. LISTEN
  4. The Florida Crystals company states that they "act as stewards of the land, balancing our natural resources and protecting surrounding ecosystems." Jason Clay responds to whether he sees this as being a true statement. LISTEN

Reykia Fick

  1. A brief history of Fair Trade. LISTEN
  2. The creation of international standards to support a Fair Trade system. LISTEN

Adony Melathopoulos

  1. Honey often travels very short distances to the kitchen table, but there has been a disturbing trend. LISTEN
  2. Let your own taste be your guide to choosing the best honey. Honey is like wine. LISTEN

David Richard

  1. How can Stevia be used in food/beverages? LISTEN
  2. Health issues of Stevia. LISTEN

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Sugar Substitutes

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World Agriculture and the Environment
"World Agriculture and the Environment"
Jason Clay
Island Press

Stevia Rebaudiana
"Stevia Rebaudiana: Nature's Sweet Secret"
David Richard
Vital Health Publishing

Stevia Sweet Recipes
"Stevia Sweet Recipes"
Jeffrey Goettemoeller
Vital Health Publishing



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.