Cory Booker wants you to ditch the white stuff (sugar, that is)
The morning before July 4, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, sent out a mass email with the subject line “Sugar Free Summer.” He detailed the harms of processed sugar, including the taxes that fund it through subsidies, its health risks, and the resulting health care bills.
Mr Booker implored recipients of the email to join him in giving up added sugar until after Labor Day. “Change starts with us,” reads a button recipients can click to “Join Cory”: “Join me in this challenge. Participate in this life experience.
Mr. Booker has been a strong advocate for nutritional health. He is a vegan, a choice he attributes in part to the environmental impact of animal agriculture, and he was one of the sponsors of a bipartisan bill with Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, the Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts and Representative Jackie Walorski of Indiana who led to securing funding for a White House conference to be held this fall which, according to Mr. Booker’s website, “will ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, healthy, and nutritious food.
But the July 3 message was a new approach in Mr. Booker’s push for national food. “I am challenged to see how his body will function and even improve,” he wrote of what he considers “both a personal experience and a public effort.” (What appeared to be an occasional third-person shift was a mistranslation of the original press release, according to Mr. Booker’s director of communications, Jeff Giertz.) Mr. Booker presented a short-term diet, designed to last two months. .
This was not the first time he had recruited the nation to be his accountability partners in physical self-improvement. “Let’s face it, as an overweight vegetarian experimenting with veganism, I can say that we ALL need to work to be healthier,” Booker said. tweeted in 2014.
Contacted by email on July 4, Mr Giertz said: “He also thinks it will be a lesson in humility for him. Going without sugar for a guy who eats a lot of it and allows himself to be a little vulnerable in the process will be difficult and maybe a little awkward at times. He hopes it will help him learn, be even more open to feedback from others and, he says, expand his own understanding and empathy.
In the email, Booker explained that natural sugars can be ingested during the challenge, in addition to alcohol and artificial sweeteners. But, he wrote, he himself would be “hardcore”, dropping his “beloved” Stevia in his tea.
Giertz said the challenge “is intended to be an accessible and thought-provoking experience aimed at highlighting and better understanding the prevalence of added sugar in our foods, not a definitive dietary guide.”
Mr Giertz acknowledged that “alcohol is sugar”, but noted that asking people to eliminate all alcohol “is like asking them to do something else entirely”.
By the time the email arrived Sunday morning, many Americans had already finished shopping for July 4 celebrations that would include hot dogs, buns and ketchup. These products frequently contain corn syrup and other added sugars, which Booker says cause “adverse inflammatory health effects.”
Referring to the famous “diet starts Monday” promise, Mr Booker reassured people that they could start cleaning “at the end of the day on July 4”, which for him would be “after a vegan barbecue and a apples,” Giertz said. .
“The specific outlines of the challenge were chosen to keep it accessible to people, keep it relatively simple, and keep it focused on added sugars,” Giertz added. “It’s a ‘summer’ challenge, so bracketing it with July 4 and Labor Day – widely observed ‘summer’ holidays – seemed appropriate without being overly long.”
Other political figures have worked to improve American nutrition. As first lady, Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! campaign in 2010 with the aim of reducing childhood obesity to 5% by 2030. In addition to promoting physical activity, the plan involved improving the quality of food in schools and encouraging families to grow produce, modeled on Mrs. Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden.
Although a 2020 study found that students whose schools participated in the National School Lunch Program supported by Mrs. Obama had better food quality than those whose schools did not, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that by 2020, the percentage of obese children and adolescents was still well above the target, at 19.7%.
In 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York announced a partial ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces, which was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2013, a day before it went into effect. Judge Milton A. Tingling ruled the plan was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Mr. Booker’s call for a sugar-free summer avoided legislative intervention for personal responsibility. Although he explained that processed sugars are “substances that receive a large portion of our tax dollars through government subsidies,” Booker did not mention any bills that would end tax breaks for companies that add from sugar to food products.
Although Mr. Giertz did not respond to questions about whether the subsidies Mr. Booker was referring to funded the cultivation of corn, the titular ingredient in corn syrup, he said Mr. Booker would “seek to pursue reforms in the next Farm Bill”. debate next year.
According to Mr. Giertz, as of July 4, 3,500 people had signed up for Mr. Booker’s challenge, whose email signature was “energized and ready to be sugar-free.”