We had been on the road for an hour, Lisbon bound, to look at some apartments for sale. The children were getting fidgety and not pleased at having another hour and a half to go. ‘I Spy’ had already been done to death. I handed out cartons of fruit juice. My thirteen year old daughter piped up with “ugh, this has got aspartame in it”. My eight year old son followed suit with “I’m not drinking this” (actually he did). My husband looked at me, as though I was trying to poison the children.
Do I not spend hours in the supermarkets sometimes, studying the tiny writing on the labelling? Tricky now it’s in Portuguese, an entire afternoon can go by. Do the security guards not eye me with suspicion as the wierdo who picks up a tin, studies it intently for several minutes and then puts it back on the shelf? Can I not be forgiven for picking up cartons of fruit juice, assuming that all you need in fruit juice is fruit juice, and then finding it stuffed full of chemicals? I stopped buying Robinsons fruit squash years ago when they started putting chemical sweetener in it and by extension even bothering to go into Iceland where they sold it, because if I wanted squash without the sweetener in it then it meant trudging along the street to another supermarket just for the squash.
The joy of Portugal though, is that we have bags of oranges to juice given generously by our neighbours, so I don’t need to spend a fortune on fresh orange juice any more. I still sometimes do though, and occasionally, oh horror, don’t bother to look at the label. If it’s not ‘sugar free’ I’m safe, right? The other day, snuggling next to the new woodburner with glass in hand, my daughter queried why orange and banana juice needed sugar in it. Now, I know it doesn’t need sugar because we frequently make our own. It’s a great combination. So why bother putting it in?
Even wierder, is the mix of chemical sweetener and sugar in drinks. Chemical sweetener and sugar?? What’s all that about.
My daughter by the way, in a bid to put her off sweet, fizzy drinks when she was three, still hasn’t forgiven me for telling her they put bird pooh in a certain well known brand of cola. When the visiting dentist came to her nursery and asked the children if they knew what it contained my daughter eagerly put her hand up, proud that mummy had already told her, and was chosen to tell everyone the terrible truth. An early taste of public humiliation in front of her peers. Sorry.