Plum job for Irish sugar-growers

MY heart goes out to the sugar beet factory workers and to the beet-growing farmers who, by all accounts, will be out of a job very shortly.

Suggestions have been made as to other sources of employment for these unfortunate fellow-citizens of ours.

I understand, for example, that the equivalent of petrol can be derived from rapeseed oil, and that the rape plant can be grown in many parts of Ireland.

When I drive north from Dublin city, I see acres and acres of it in the north county.

I believe it is grown in Co Wexford as well.

I wish every success to those involved in this petrol-from-rapeseed venture.

I wonder whether we are required by the EU, strictly speaking, to give up the production of all types of sugar.

Medical experts claim that excess use of ordinary sugar (white and brown) is implicated in such ailments of the western world as diabetes and obesity.

But what about xylitol, or plum sugar? Plum sugar has a one-tenth of the calories of ordinary sugar, and a friend of mine, who uses it regularly, assures me it is as sweet as ordinary sugar.

Parts of Ireland are well suited to the growing of plums.

I know that, in years gone by, plums were grown in abundance, for example in Cratloe, Co Clare.

I’m told that the people of Limerick city used to come out in their droves to buy these delicious Cratloe plums. Indeed, when the pope’s representative was in Ireland in the 1640s, he noted that there was an abundance of fruit in that area, and that the people were tall and very good-looking.

People only grow tall when their nutrition is excellent.

I think we should seriously consider redirecting sugar beet farmers into the growing of plums, and retraining the sugar beet factory workers in the production of plum sugar.

I don’t think I have ever seen Irish-produced plums in a supermarket here. Yet it is certain that plums have been grown here since the middle ages.

To the best of my knowledge the only xylitol or plum sugar which is sold in Ireland is imported from the US, and I haven’t seen it on sale in Dublin city centre for the last few weeks.

The top English dietician, Patrick Holford, recommends xylitol or plum sugar.

Its GL [glycaemic load] is low, and that is a big help when one is trying to lose weight.

Holford maintains that the GL is a surer indicator of how fattening a foodstuff is than the GI [glycaemic index].

Séamas de Barra

83 Beaufort Downs

Rathfarnham Village

Dublin 14.

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