Sweet Sugar


White Cane Sugar
By Fritzs (Own work), via Wikimedia

Do you like sweet food? Adam Navis and Liz Waid look at the different substances that make food sweet.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

What kinds of sweeteners do you use in your food and drink? Do you eat sticks of sugarcane? Do you put sweet honey in your tea? Do you pour thick maple syrup on your breakfast? All of these substances, and many more, make food sweeter.

Voice 2 

There are many kinds of sweeteners in the world. The most common is sugar. But for centuries, people have used different kinds of natural sweeteners to make their food sweeter. Today’s Spotlight is on sweeteners.

Voice 1 

Each area of the world has a commonly used sweetener. The traditional sweeteners are usually easy to grow or harvest in that area of the world. Traditional ways of sweetening food and drink are a part of the culture of each country.

Voice 2 

You may remember a Spotlight program called Miracle Berry*. This program was about a fruit from West Africa. People eat this small, red fruit. After eating the miracle fruit, other foods taste sweeter!

Voice 1 

Honey is another popular sweetener in many countries. Honey is made by bees. These small, flying insects gather nectar from flowers. They bring the nectar back to their homes. After some time, the collected nectar becomes thick, golden honey. Bees collect nectar from different kinds of flowers. The honey tastes different depending on which nectar the bees collected.

Voice 2 

For example, in Turkey, people gather honey from the mountains near the Mediterranean Sea. The bees there fly between the flowers and herbs in the mountains. They create a special honey called ‘bal.’ Turkish people use this honey in tea. They also make sweet desserts with it, like baklava.

Voice 1 

In the United States and Canada, people collect a different kind of natural sweetener. It comes from the sugar maple tree. At the end of winter, people put a small hole into the sugar maple tree. Then they collect the liquid that comes out. They boil this liquid until it is thick and brown. It is now maple syrup. People in North America use maple syrup when they cook. Or, they simply pour it over some foods, to sweeten them.

Voice 2 

In Japan, a common sweetener comes from the leaves of the Stevia plant. Stevia is native to South America. It is a small flowering plant. People dry the leaves of the stevia plant. Then they use the leaves in teas and drinks. People also process the dried leaves into a fine, white powder. They then use this powder to add sweetness when they cook.

Voice 1 

People have enjoyed these natural sweeteners for centuries. They are often very easy to collect or prepare. They provide nutrients and vitamins. They also provide a sweet taste that can make people feel happy and satisfied.

Voice 2 

However, about 500 years ago, one sweetener started to become a big business. It is sugar. Today, sugar is the most popular sweetener in every country in the world. Sugar can be made from beets, a root vegetable, or from corn. But most sugar comes from sugarcane. Sugarcane is a long, thick grass. Farmers grow sugarcane plants in more than 90 countries. And it is one of the most important crops in the world’s economy.

Voice 1 

Many products are made from sugarcane. But most sugarcane is processed into white sugar. This sugar has many small particles that look like sand. White sugar is easy to use, and easy to find. And it does not cost a lot of money. For these reasons many people in the world choose to use sugar instead of other natural sweeteners.

Voice 2 

This was not always the case. Up until the 1800s white sugar was only used by very rich people. And they did not use very much of it. They used it as a medicine and as a spice in cooking. They also used sugar to keep food from going bad. But in the 1800s, Europeans colonized many areas of South America, and islands in the Caribbean. They developed large sugarcane farms. They also brought many people from Africa to work as slaves on the farms.

Voice 1 

With slave labour and increased trade, sugar soon became available to people around the world. The result was that people began to eat more and more sugar. Now sugar is a large part of many people’s diet. Sugar is found in sweet desserts, soda drinks, and bread products.  Even foods that do not taste very sweet may have sugar in them, such as dry cereal or packets of potato chips.

Voice 2 

Many people have a strong desire to eat sweets. And it is not bad to eat some sweets. However, eating too much sweet food can be dangerous. High amounts of sugar can lead to health problems. Dr. Donald Hensrud works at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. He explains the negative effects of too much sugar:

Voice 3 

“From a health stand point, sugar is a 'triple danger' - it provides extra calories. It has no nutrients that are good for your body. And it may make a person not eat other foods and nutrients in the diet that are more healthy.”

Voice 1 

Too much sugar increases a person’s chance of health problems. The body turns extra sugar into fat. So, too much sugar can lead to too much body weight. Being overwieght can cause many other health problems. Eating too much sugar can also lead to tooth problems, heart disease and diabetes.

Voice 2 

Many people want to avoid these health issues. But they still want to eat sweet things. One way to do this is to eat ripe fruit or small amounts of natural sweeteners like honey. These are sweet and also healthy.

Voice 1

Another way to use less sugar is to use artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are not from a plant. Instead, they are made in a laboratory. They may taste similar to a natural sweetener, but they are made from chemicals.

Voice 2 

Are artificial sweeteners better for health? Some experts are concerned about artificial sweeteners. They think that artificial sweeteners cause some health problems. Listen for another Spotlight program about those sweeteners.

Voice 1 

Is there a traditional sweetener in your area? What is your favourite sweetener? Share your comments on the script page for this program on our website, at www.radioenglish.net.

Voice 2 

The writers of this program were Johanna Poole and Christy VanArragon. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Sweet Sugar’.

Voice 1

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

*The name of this program earlier is actually "Miracle Fruit".

Question:

Do you prefer natural or artificial sweeteners? Do you prefer sweet food?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Skender
said on February 13, 2012

Everyone like sugar, but children love it. The best sweeteners I think is honey. It is a safety food which do not couse any illnes in human body. Furthermore honey has a lot of vitamines and smells good like flawers where it was collected. sweeteners in general are useful in our everyday meals. In adition people compare their lovers with sweeteners. That’s why they often call each other “sweety” or “honey”.
Thank you Spotlight for this sweet programme.
Skender from Albania

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rayanvang
said on February 15, 2012

Eating excessive sweet food is also harmful to health.

Aetna Access Dental Plan

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knight2888
said on February 15, 2012

I also like sugar but I do not eat it too much. In chemistry, sugar is a disaccharide.

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Somlet
said on February 15, 2012

One of the best and useful product is honey. Eating honey in moderation and you’ll be OK! Thanks Spotlight for programs. I very like it! It helps me to learn English. Alex from Moscow.

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D Nguyen
said on February 16, 2012

In my country, sugar made from sugar-cane is the main sweetener which people use for cooking. But, people in the southern of the country are also using another object to make sugar, it’s a palm tree called thot not (borassus). Also, in my country people live in the south often it food that is sweeter then people live in the noth.

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l9anasss
said on March 19, 2012

honey is the best sweeteners, I use it before go to the gym

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paulo86nirisco
said on January 28, 2013

In my country that is brazil the favorite sweetener is sugarcane

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on January 28, 2013

On Equator is used the sugar made of the sugarcane.

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jack shin
said on January 30, 2013

In Thailand, most of sugar are white sugar, and i hate the most because of its harmful.
I see many time people use a lots of sugars in their food to make it sweeter.

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Dela
said on August 21, 2018

In my country the Czech Republic people who really take care of their health strive to change white sugar for the alternate natural sweeteners such as honey or stevia. No doubt, using white sugar to sweet food can be harmful highly for our health therefore we should try to reduce it or preferably to avoid sweetening completely! However, wean for sweetening can be difficult, complex for some persons.