Thursday, 19 August 2010

Silly Sally Sugar Lump

There’s a lot of talk these days about the modern Western diet and how it is contributing to the rising numbers of people being diagnosed with diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Processed foods are often made more palatable by including varying amounts of sugar, salt or fat. Less sugar often means more fat, and vice versa, so it’s hard to keep track of how far off a healthy diet any particular foodstuff will take you. For this reason, I tend to cook my own food from fresh ingredients whenever possible, but it is still difficult to avoid the salt and sugar in so many foods where it might not be expected, certainly in the quantities often used. Manufacturers include these elements because they know that our palate and brains crave them, and without them food may taste bland and uninteresting.

Since my diagnosis I’ve become a lot more careful of the food I buy, checking packets before purchase and comparing products to make sure that I am buying the healthiest of what is available. However, although companies are now obliged to print the quantities of constituents in a standardised format, this standardisation does not apply to the size or clarity of the text – so I can often be found whipping out my spyglass (so to speak) so that I can read the tiny print on packaging. I feel this is wrong, and is effectively hiding that information from me – possibly even discriminating against me because my eyesight does not match that of a hawk in its prime, and making it more difficult for me to make decisions about carbohydrate content that are crucial to my blood sugar control! It’s like any ‘small print’ really, that is a legal obligation to display, but there are no rules on whether it should be actually legible to a person with average vision.

I feel a campaign coming on – writing to food manufacturers asking for an explanation of why they choose to effectively hide this important information away. I think I know the reason, but it would be interesting to see how they wriggle out of their obligation!

Silly Sally Sugar Lump would often take the blame,
For making humans huge as hills just mentioning her name!
She knew that humans fell for her, and longed for her sweet kiss,
So she’d hide away in all their food, the wicked little miss!

She had a friend called Sammy Salt, so similar in name,
And he agreed it would be fun to join in Sally’s game!
And though they tasted different, they hid themselves quite well,
Blending in with savoury and sweetened food as well!

Sally hid in Chinese food, as spicy as could be,
And Sammy hid in puddings which you might think are salt-free!
Then governments decided they would stop their little racket,
By forcing companies making food to name them on the packet!

But governments had missed a trick, so companies were free
To hide the names by writing them as tiny as can be.
So humans often overlooked just what their food contained,
And their pernicious influence on taste buds still remained.

It’s time to make it obvious, for they can harm our health,
Though Sally’s game has made her name, and no doubt fame and wealth!
A little Sally does us good, she cheers our heart and mind,
But too much Sally day-by-day you’ll find is not so kind!

As for Sammy Salt, you’ll find that we need him to live,
Too much of him, however is a certain negative –
So count each gram that you consume, and never more than six,
Eat both in moderation and be wary of their tricks!


  1. That's very true about the labels, but the size of the print is just one of the tricks. Here are a couple of others:
    1. They put the print on a background that makes it impossible to read. This seems to usually be on clear packaging. So you'll get the nutritional information printed in black on a pack of brown crackers. Oh, it's OK. You can read it by putting a white piece of paper behind the empty wrapper after you're done.
    2. If they want you to see the nutritional information, they put it in table format. If they really don't want you to read it, theyrunallofthetexttogetherlikethis.

    Then of course there are the other tricks that involve serving size and servings per package.
    I was sure it said there were only 4 grams of carbs in this drink. Oh, wait, 3 serving per bottle? I guess I couldn't read it so well until I drank down past the nutrition label.

    Do you think these poems will ever be collected and published in book form? I think it's great stuff.

  2. Cheers Jerry! You're absolutely right, and you've come up with a few 'techniques' there that I hadn't really thought about!

    I am hoping to publish an anthology, I've been trying to assess whether there is a market for it. A lot of people think they don't like poetry, but I try to make mine humorous rather than deep as I think it's better to laugh than to bemoan your lot in life :)