The Political economy of sugar consumption – Ben Richardson – Food Thinkers

Ben Richardson on The Political economy of sugar consumption

The consumption of sugar is about more than its intrinsic sweetness. To explain why it is ingested in dangerously high quantities, we need to appreciate its appeal to the businesses that supply and shape our collective diets.

This talk proposes that the enduring commercial utility of sugar has been to dissolve barriers to accumulation. Whether suspending shelf-life, modifying meal times or encouraging over-eating, the properties of sucrose have been extremely useful in helping industrial food manufacturers subvert the natural and cultural rules governing what can be eaten, when, and in what quantities. Moreover, it is not just the corporate restructuring of diets but also societal responses to it that should be seen through the lens of capitalism. Attempts to invoke state regulation, limit commodification, and divest eating of the profit motive are all symptomatic of life within this economic system.

About the speaker

Ben Richardson is Associate Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Warwick. He has authored two books on the global politics of sugar, and published articles on trade liberalisation, the concept of food security and voluntary certification in the agro-industry.

Ben also joined the FRC for a Food Bites to give us a snapshot snapshot of what the current issues in the food system are and what civil society organisations and academics could be doing to work towards solutions.

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