I had a great Hawaiian vacation on Maui. One of the highlights was ziplining with Flyin’ Hawaiian Ziplines. Much of the land over which we slid (flew?) consisted of sugarcane fields. One of the guides told us that sugarcane takes about two years to mature. The process of harvesting sugar contributed to the cultural diversity of Hawaii, as immigrants came from Portugal, China, Japan, and other places to work in the fields. Nowadays, the cane is harvested by burning, which reduces the sugar loss between field and processing plant; unfortunately, the growers burn the fields, drip systems and all. Burning plastics might not be the healthiest thing in the world. In fact, the sugar growers willingly pay a fine for the environmental impact of burning fields. All that irrigation is necessary because it takes about a ton of water to produce a pound of sugar. For more on the environmental impact of sugar growing, check out World Wildlife’s data here.
Why is this a fitness issue? Several reasons. First, no one can be healthy without clean water and clean air. Second, sugar consumption underlies a lot of the obesity problem we face personally and societally. Sugar tastes good; we are programmed from birth to like sweet things. We can all use a little more motivation to reduce our intake. If the personal risks of sugar (excess weight, potential diabetes, energy crashes, etc.) aren’t enough to convince us to skip the sweets, maybe saving the world a little bit might help.