The Sordid History of Sugar

Humans, and many other animals, evolved to seek out and enjoy anything sweet, because the sugars those foods contain provided us with much-needed calories and energy. That's a useful adaptation because in the natural world, sugar is relatively rare and comes in fruits and other plants that also provide us with other nutrients. But humans found a way to process sugar into its purest form, and we went wild for it. That's not healthy, but it is lucrative. The money to be made in sugar production led to some shady, deceptive, and downright cruel episodes in history. Even today, when we know that sugar is bad for us, it's hard to get away from it, even by giving up candy, soda, and sweet treats. Food products that aren't even supposed to be sweet contain sugar, and it's difficult to find alternatives without it. That's because those who profit from those products know we are evolutionarily wired to prefer anything with sugar in it.

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