Beneath the Sugar Moon
Small Farmer's Journal, Spring 2008


(Photo courtesy of Xavier Capaldi)



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We’ve been on a collision course with artificial and instant foods in the United States for 130 years. The first ready-mix for pancakes was sold under the Aunt Jemima™ name in the 1880’s. Since then, our pervasive culture of corn has invaded almost every belly and gas tank in the country. We feed it to our cows, fill our cars with ethanol, and through a combination of chemistry, genetic engineering, and government subsidies, turn it into a myriad of products ranging from soda pop to maple-flavored corn syrup. Of course, most of us don’t think of it that way, thanks in part to the magic of advertising.

I grew up with the image of Mrs. Butterworth™ firmly implanted in my brain, not that she ever slid gracefully across our breakfast table.

“See how the leading syrup just runs over this stack while Mrs. Butterworth takes her own sweet time.” she intoned in the late 1970s, a translucent, maple-colored eye winking disconcertingly, “Now my syrup has got to be thick to pour this slow. Truth is Mrs. Butterworth is twice as thick as the other leading syrup.”

Truth is Mrs. Butterworth™ is corn syrup. Truth is there isn’t a drop of maple in the bottle. Truth is Mrs. Butterworth™ is all about thick, not taste...

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