This is an installment in our new Around the Table series by writer and activist Stephen Satterfield, which will explore the political and ethical issues that define today's food system. We hope that it sparks a conversation around your dinner table.
Today, we're delving into the soda tax in the U.S. and what that really means for you, your family, and the future of our country.
You can get away with so much if you're sweet.
Sugar, that amorphous, dubious, delicious substance, is perhaps the grandest beneficiary of this principle. Take, for instance, one tablespoon of ketchup, approximately the amount produced by a modest pump into a white paper ramekin at a fast-food joint. That tablespoon contains nearly 4 grams of sugar, which, according to the American Heart Association is 16 percent of the daily recommended intake of added sugar for an adult woman. A 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 times the amount of that tablespoon of ketchup.
This may be stuff you already know, but have you wrapped your head around the "soda tax"—or, as soda companies would call it, the "grocery tax"—and all of its implications? We're here to help you wade through this sweet rhetorical jousting.
Here's the deal: If you buy a soda (or a sports drink or an energy drink or any of the sort with high volumes of added sugar) in the places where the soda tax exists, you will pay a surcharge.
The thinking is that higher prices will lower consumption, and recent reports suggest that at least in Berkeley, California, the first U.S. city to impose the tax in 2014, that thinking was correct. In June, Philadelphia followed suit and started taxing soda purchases too. Where will be next?
Nowhere, if the soda industry has anything to do with it.