Good sugars instead of ‘white death’

ERYTHRITOL … That’s my nonsugar, zero glycemic index sweetener of choice these days – usually in combination with stevia. Stevia can have a slightly bitter aftertaste, although it is deeply sweet, so I tend not to use it alone in place of sugar … Erythritol (1,2,3,4-butanetetrol) is a sugar alcohol (also known as a polyol), found naturally in some mushrooms, pears, soy sauce, wine, cheese, sake, watermelon and grapes. It has 60-70 percent of the sweetness of sucrose. Part of the structure of polyols resembles sugar and part resembles alcohol, but they contain no ethanols. And they do not cause tooth decay. Other polyols include maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol. The latter gives me the runs a lot. While erythritol can have a small laxative effect, I find it not as extreme on my gut microbiome … “Erythritol has a higher digestive tolerance compared to all other polyols because about 90 percent of the ingested erythritol is readily absorbed and excreted unchanged in urine,” according to Boesten, den Hartog, de Cock, Bonnema, Bosscher and Bast, Health Effects of Erythritol, March,13015. “We conclude that erythritol could be of great importance and could be considered to be the preferred sugar substitute for a rapidly growing population of people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.” This study and others like it have found sugar alcohols to be safe for human consumption on a daily basis and in high amounts … Erythritol is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in corn. It is heatstable up to 160 degrees C. While some polyols are low calorie, erythritol has zero calories. It does not raise plasma glucose or insulin levels. More than 90 percent of erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine, so minimal amounts reach the colon where other polyols end up causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Studies have shown that erythritol is easier to digest than xylitol. Both have to been shown to have no carcinogenic properties. An antioxidant, erythritol helps fight free radicals, being so readily absorbed by the body but not being metabolized (it is excreted unchanged) … Erythritol is the most expensive of the polyols to make, and so it often combined with a bit of organic stevia to give it that extra sweet kick … My sweet product of choice right now is Pyure’s Organic Stevia Blend from Naples, Fla. It is primarily erythritol (in spite of its name) mixed with stevia and some natural flavors. I use it for sweetening my hot morning dandelion-chocolate-lapsong souchong drink. It’s most noticeable as well in my dark chocolate hit (Lily’s Sweets from Boulder) … But every good review should have at least one negative comment, to show that the piece is not simply a booster for some marketing program. So, you should know that erythritol can be fatal to fruit flies, and it has been suggested as a possible insecticide … And you might also be interested that three of the researchers in the study cited — de Cock, Bosscher and Bonnema — work for Cargill Research & Development, while the other three are associated with Maastricht University’s Department of Toxicology in the Netherlands.

BILLY JOE MOFFAT … Jill Lawson did a lovely elegy in the Four Corners Free Press out of Cortez (February issue) for this legendary Western Slope figure who passed away in December. Thanks to some mutual friends, I got to know Billy Joe. Even got to soak in his Paradise Hot Springs once … Although many folks have forgotten, he wrote a financial column for the old San Miguel Journal that Jim Davidson founded in Telluride back in the ’80s. It was simultaneously hilarious and informative – since Billy Joe had paid his dues as a Wall Street broker, a very successful one. But he loved the mountains more than money. Did a turn as Dolores County commissioner. Was a DJ stalwart KSJD, although those of us in San Miguel County also remember his “Best of Jazz” show on KOTO, and some knew that he’d played tenor sax in and around Chicago as a young man. He was also a classic photographer whose iconic prints you may have seen around the region and not realized they were his … A big man with a big presence. As one of his neighbors on the West Fork told the Free Press, without Billy Joe “this valley will never be the same.”

ODDITEMS … As a poet, I love new words (“neologisms” as linguists call them). I’ve made a few myself (paleohippie, glummick). But when a word jumps from private jargon or the Urban Dictionary of current slang to the Oxford English dictionary, it’s considered legit and available to formal English users. I love one of this year’s borrowings (from Hawaiian pidgin) that just made that leap: hammajang (as in “messed up” or “in a disorderly or shambolic state”). The Oxford notes that it is used chiefly as a predicative, especially as “all hammajang” … Kathy Berg at the Cortez Library is organizing a first ever Cortez Literary Arts Festival this coming June 7-8. For more info, contact

CRESTONE POETRY FESTIVAL … Peter Anderson and the Crestone Creative District hosted a second annual poetry fest in Crestone last month. There were workshops and performances, open mics and plenty of time to hike around the beautiful slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains … Poets from all over the Western Slope attended, including former Western Slope Poet Laureate Aaron Abeyta of Antonito in the San Luis Valley, William Pitt Root and Pamela Uschuk of Durango, nationally recognized poet Mark Irwin of Salida, and cowboy poet Peggy Godfrey of Moffat … New Mexico sent a contingent including Robyn Hunt, Debbi Brody, Anne McNaughton, Gary Worth Moody, Renee Gregorio and John Brandi. Nathan Brown from Texas made it up. Front Range poets included Colorado Poet Laureate Joe Hutchison, 2018 Cantor Award winner Prof. Jane Hilberry of Colorado College, Julie Cummings, and slam poet headliner Adrian H. Molina of Denver. And there were lots more poets in attendance, bringing powerful voices from all over the state … Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and I got to emcee on Saturday night’s Poem- a-Palooza, and Sunday morning we had a marvelous Gourd Circle … Mark your calendars for next year. Crestone is shaping up as the most exciting poetry gathering in the state.

Art Goodtimes is a former county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.


One in Winter

when cold enough
the river becomes its own obstacle —
oh heart, stay warm, stay warm

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Placerville, Colo.

From Art Goodtimes.