Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Chopping Block Chronicles: The socially acceptable drug

April 3, 2019 by Justin Bennett, contributing writer

First off, I just want to point out that I am an avid coffee drinker (I write this as I take a sip of my quad espresso), and that the purpose of this article is solely to question our philosophies around substances in general.

I was once posed a question in one of my health classes: “Should food/drinks have labels specifying how much caffeine is in them?” I responded yes. Being a father of a five-year-old daughter, the idea was a no-brainer. I continued reading my health book, in which Health Canada recommends a maximum daily intake of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That quad espresso I referred to earlier? Yeah, that’s my daily intake right there. 

Is this going to stop me from having at least one more coffee later on in the day? Absolutely not. I’m sure that many of you can relate to that, with there only being a few weeks left of classes as I type these words.

The Chopping Block Chronicles is a column about food; it appears in every issue of Nexus.

Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant, yet it has absolutely no guidelines for its consumption. It’s in everything from coffee to chocolate bars, from tea to soft drinks, and there are absolutely no repercussions for the excessive use of it. This becomes particularly concerning in the case of children. 

As a youth, I spent all my hard-earned money from scrubbing pots and pans on junk food. Pop, chocolate, and video games were my fix in my early years. I could easily drink a six-pack of Coca-Cola in a sitting while playing my favourite game on a Friday evening. The six-pack contains about 200 milligrams of caffeine (not to mention the amount of sugar that I was consuming); it’s no wonder my anxiety was through the roof.

Rather than asking whether or not a product’s label should include the amount of caffeine in it, I believe we should be asking what we can do to regulate the consumption of this drug. 

If we are so strict with other psychoactive drugs that affect our nervous systems, then why do we not treat caffeine the same way?

Education on the negative impacts that caffeine can have on our systems is vital. There needs to be some sort of regulation for the purchase of items containing caffeine, especially out of consideration for our youth.

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