Recently I found myself in a large medical center, one of these places that’s more a small city than a hospital. Strolling around it, I wasn’t sure if I was in a place for medical care, a mall, or a cruise ship. Multiple levels of food courts, shops, street signs, and offices – all indoors – found me a bit disoriented.
I was tired and thirsty and I had a long drive home. In such situations, my drink of choice is Coke. Between the caffeine and sugar, I would stay alert. The carbonation would temporarily ameliorate my hunger pangs until I had a chance to eat a real meal.
You’d think I’d be able to find a Coke somewhere in this city-within-a-city, but you’d be wrong. I looked everywhere, but there wasn’t a can, bottle, or dispenser to be found. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zippo. It was all diet sodas.
Now, I have nothing against diet sodas, except for the fact that they uniformly taste like skunk urine. If someone wants to drink that stuff, more power to’em. But what about the rest of us? There’s an obvious prejudice against not only soda, but sugar in general. For some reason, everyone is in love with the sugar substitute, aspartame.
We’re told there’s nothing wrong with aspartame, that it’s “safe at current levels of consumption”, whatever that means. I’d suggest that sugar is at least as safe at reasonable levels of consumption. We’ve been using aspartame since 1981. Sugar’s got a bit longer track record, but this mindless discrimination still excludes it from certain locales.
Give me the meager 140 fatless calories found in a can of Coke over the “methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide” that is aspartame. Diet sodas have warnings on them! Sugar doesn’t! I’m not a phenylketonuric, but it’s still not worth the risk to me. Especially not for the flavor of skunk excretions of any kind.
What it comes down to is self-control. If someone must drink 15 cans a day, diet sodas are probably the way to go. (Hopefully that’s within the safe but ambiguous “current levels of consumption.”) The alternative is pouring less crap into our bodies, but that would take restraint, a concept lost in today’s consumer culture.
That’s all I’m writing for today. I’m gonna go have a Coke.