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On Your Table Blog

February 28, 2019

Don't shy away from sugar

Don't shy away from sugar

By Carie Moore

We hear a lot about sugars, syrups, sweeteners, and frankly it’s overwhelming. Do I buy granulated? The pink packet, the blue packet, or the yellow packet? Do I want something flavored with corn syrup or cane sugar?

North Dakota is a top producer of many crops. In 2018 we were #1 in the production of honey and #3 in the production of sugar beets (not to mention #1 in a bunch of other crops as well).

The biggest misconception is that foods are good or bad for us. While it’s true if you go overboard, the key to “bad” is moderation.

Many of our food products contain or were processed using some kind of sugar source. Meats are cured in sugar, bread contains sugar, and fruits contain a lot of sugar.

What nutritional impact does refined white beet sugar have on my diet?

Your body treats sucrose in the same way regardless of its source. In fact, your body uses all sugars in the same way, so eating refined beet sugar, honey, or sugar from any other source has the same effect on your body -- it is converted into glucose and used by the cells for energy. (

North Dakota is #3 in sugar beet production

When I make treats for my nutrition challenges I use honey. It’s not that it is “healthier” per say based on calories, carbs, protein, and fat, but it has some added health benefits that refined sugar does not.

High quality honey is key. It’s better for your heart, cholesterol, and blood. For diabetics, it’s a better substitute than granulated sugar.

Still, I’m not going to shy away from two products (three, if you include corn/corn syrup) that help add to our state’s agricultural position in U.S. ag production. It’s about teaching our kids how to consume it properly and wisely.

North Dakota is #1 in honey production

Bees that make honey are what help us achieve such great crops like canola, flax and safflower. Our pasture lands support livestock and wildlife habitat that supports a wealth of wild game. They also support almond and fruit production in other states.

Bees are a multi-purpose tool in ag.

Sugar beets support a lot of farmers in the eastern North Dakota. They have good soils and weather for beet production. They are also a GMO crop that we rely on for sugar that goes into all the 4-H bake sales, farmers market products, and church kuchen and lefse baking fellowship gatherings.

Sugar beets aren’t just a product for humans either. Molasses goes into many horse feed products and beet pulp goes into pellets for livestock.

Boy holding a sugar beet

We don’t need to shy away from sugar. We just need to be conscious about how much and what products we consume it in.