Sweet Rationalization

There are times when my brain is completely devoid of ideas. At such times I can successfully look at television, as long as no one asks me to explain what I’m watching. I can stare at my computer screen and occasionally hit a few keys. I might even hold a conversation. But my brain is not cooperating; it has become a sieve.

I might blame sugar for this state of mind. We are old friends, sugar and I. Unfortunately, sugar is the kind of friend my mother always warned me to stay away from. Did I listen? Of course not. I had already been brainwashed into the cult of 31 flavors.

There was a time when I believed that sugar was the root of all evil, or at least all mental and physical ailments. I read somewhere that the chemical structure of sugar and cocaine are almost identical. Believing this did not prevent me from feeding my addiction.

To gain a little perspective: by some counts a human and a banana share over half of their genes. But even though we have so much in common, I would not trust the advice a banana might give me about consuming sugar. I’m sure a banana’s opinion would be skewed towards banana bread. Sugar is not cocaine.

But brownies are addictive; mine have become legendary. They are in fact the only thing I know how to cook.

When students weigh the difficulty of Latin vs. Spanish, brownies are part of that equation. I suspect that if I became an anti-sugar advocate and stopped baking them, my program would die.

I should feel guilty about giving brownies to my students. Obesity is epidemic among teens, and sugar is partly to blame. Our school district has taken a stand: vending machines no longer supply soft drinks; they provide water. No candy bars; granola bars are offered.

But it isn’t easy to bribe students with granola bars. That is why brownies have become an educational tool, at least in my classroom. Take them away, and grammar is much less compelling.

My stand is this: sugar is simple. It doesn’t have trans-fats or cholesterol. It’s prettier than fiber. It’s pure, white, infinite, quickly metabolized. It doesn’t promise anything but sweetness.

How can it be evil?

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