Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A very frugal sugar millionaire and the inside scoop on the white stuff;-)

The tour of the Grove Farm was fascinating. The man who built the plantation that eventually became what you currently buy as C & H sugar was named George Wilcox. He was incredibly frugal. He lived in a tiny home with a bedroom a sleeping porch and a small office and bathroom. When the porcelain soap holder broke on his tub, he just welded on an old sardine can. Nothing went to waste anywhere on the plantation.

His brother and his brother's wife and six children came to live on the plantation to help run it and they built a 16,000 square foot beautiful home about 20 yards from where George lived and the juxtaposition of lifestyles was interesting. He was at the time of his death one of the wealthiest men in the U.S., but lived a very austere lifestyle, possibly due to his upbringing as a missionary family's son (though that austerity didn't seem to rub off on his brother).

Ironically, I got the following email from a friend the same day I toured the plantation, though she didn't know I was going there.

I'm trying not to become too focused on this, but it has started to bother me more lately. Because we're traveling more I've noticed that the quality of our diet has suffered. I started paying more and more attention to how much added sugar my son was getting by drinking sodas. He won't drink water and milk isn't always avail. He will dring 100% juices if you can find them. I was at Taco Bell last night and decided to look at the nutrition guide. I looked up the sodas. My mouth dropped. Their smallest size Pepsi is 16oz. that is 56 grams of sugar or 13 tsp of sugar (12 tsp is 1/4 cup). Their 30 oz cup has 105 grams of sugar, 25 tsp sugar (24 tsp = 1/2 cup.). They actually have a 40 oz drink too! This has become a real battle for me. If he's already had a soda with lunch, I won't buy him a second drink later in the day . He thinks I'm a food Nazi. According to the guidelines below, it looks like an average 2000 cal a day diet should have around 32 grams of added sugar a day. One fountain drink blows this away. Then he grabs a yogurt (healthy right) and it has 27 grams more of sugar. I just feel like it's a losing battle. I've included some suggested guidelines below. I don't know how to get close to these without being a "food nag". There are "diet" sodas, but I don't like all of the weird science involved. Are you guys having the same battles with your kids? How are you handling it?

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 8 teaspoons per day of added sugar based on a 2,000 calories/day diet. That's 32 grams if you're reading labels, and about 6% of your total calories for the day. Sounds like a lot, but believe me... it's not.

32 total grams sugar/ 4 grams per teaspoon = < 8 teaspoons added sugar/day


  1. How old is your friend's son? Being a food nazi is part of being a parent! Glad you are having a good time in Hawaii. I have a SIL who lives in Hilo, very frugally I might add.

  2. Hi Anonymous. My friend's son is 13, so that can be a tough age as he wants his independence but isn't making the best choices always;-). Love, love, love Hawaii - it is beautiful beyond belief. I'm impressed your SIL can live here frugally. The food is very expensive and housing is too. Though we met a docent sp?/guide at one of the plantation homes who said they often send home produce with the volunteers so that helps. And with the climate I would think you could grow a lot of your own food. What a wonderful place to have family to visit! Most of mine are in Iowa and Illinois - not quite the same;-)