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Sugarcane. By Theresa McMenomy. 20 million hectares in cultivation More area is devoted to sugarcane than most cash crops produced in the tropics Has very little nutritional value Found in almost all processed foods 20% of calories consumed by Americans is sugar

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  1. Sugarcane By Theresa McMenomy

  2. 20 million hectares in cultivation • More area is devoted to sugarcane than most cash crops produced in the tropics • Has very little nutritional value • Found in almost all processed foods • 20% of calories consumed by Americans is sugar • Every 2.5 days, Americans eat nearly a half a kilogram (about a pound) of sugar

  3. History • 400-350 BC- Sugar referred to in Indian food recipes • 5th Century- Chinese growing and making sugar • 6th Century- Sugarcane cultivated in Persia (Invented conical sugar loaves)

  4. Arab Expansion Westward(Defeat of Heraclius in 636 and Invasion of Spain in 711) Spreading Sugar throughout the Mediterranean… • Introduced sugarcane, its cultivation, the art of sugar making, and a taste for its different sweetness to: • Sicily • Cyprus • Malta • Spain • Much of Maghrib (especially in Morocco) • Rhodes

  5. Old World Plantations • Europeans of non-Moslem Europe became familiar with sugar through the Crusades • European Crusaders took advantage of sugarcane by seizing the sugar plantations • Produced the cane with slave labor

  6. New World Plantations • Spain and Portugal’s sugarcane knowledge is owed to occupying Moors • Continued plantation tradition of slavery • As P. and S. initiated the sugar industry in the Atlantic islands just as production in Greece, Italy, Spain and north Africa was decreasing • European demand was increasing • Sugar increasingly becomes less of a luxury and status symbol and more commonly used

  7. British and French Colonists • By the near mid-seventeenth century, first considered producing sugar in the Caribbean • Many Colonists were small-scale cultivators of limited means • Labor: Slave, political prisoners (petty criminals, political and religious nonconformists, labor organizer and Irish revolutionaries), and debt and indentured servants • By late 17th Century, plantations replaced small farms—sharp increase of enslaved Africans

  8. After emancipation…Same Conditions

  9. Continued regimentation of sugar plantation routine many years after slavery (Louisiana)

  10. Loading Cane onto the Carrier en route to sugar mill

  11. Boiling Cane Juice

  12. U.S. Imperialism • Spanish-American War of 1898—US seized Cuba and Puerto Rico • 1905—US seized the D.R. (Occupied it from 1916 to 1924) • US capitalists controlled entire colonial Caribbean Sugar Mills in the Dominican Republic (1930)

  13. Technology Problems 3 Reasons for persistence of poverty: • Results of new free market labor • Fast-paced economic integration to the U.S. economy • Introduction of the latest technological advances in sugar mills • Technological improvements translated into falling price margins between refined and raw sugar under the conditions of industrial competition • Time required to refine sugar fell from 3 weeks to 16 hours (B/c of combined use of steam, the vacuum pan, animal charcoal, and the centrifugal machine) • Outstripped the increases in consumption and demand

  14. Sugar Trust (1887) • 1890-91price war caused industrial concentration that strengthened the Sugar Trust—to control 98% of the outpost of refined sugar in the United States • Initial attacks against the trust were quieted by the US gov’t’s reliance on big capital for the organization of the WWI economy • Populist antitrust movement declined • 1922- American Sugar Refining Company allowed to retain 25% interest in the National Refining sugar Company, 31% interest in the Great Western Beet Sugar Company, and a 34% interest in the Michigan Sugar Company

  15. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) • Sugar’s strongest competitor • US-leading producer of HFCS (about 8% of entire sweetener market) • Primarily industrial— HFCS production is justified only if there is a nearby production chain • Technology more complex and more capital intensive

  16. Proletarian Cause • 1800- free trade turned sugar into a rare necessity of every English person • Commoners around the world struggling to stabilize their diets • Increased purchasing but decline in nutrition • By 1900-Nearly 1/5 of the calories in the English diet were from sugar “Because industrialization caused increasing urbanization and urbanization entailed shifting patterns of food consumption, sugar acquired increasing importance in the dietary intake of urban populations” • Working families replaced traditional meals with bread and jam and other sugar products to save time

  17. Major Environment Impacts • Destruction of biodiversity—cultivated entire tropical regions, e.g. islands • Conversion of primary forest habitat • Soil erosion • Agrochemcial use • Organic matter from processing effluents

  18. Potential to Improve • Poor • Price too low to improve industry or genetics • Better management practices are known but producers are set in their ways • Subsidies for sugar beets and can and market barriers in developed countries are disincentives for producers to change

  19. Green Cane • Growers do not burn the foliage for harvest (Used in Cuba, Australia and Brazil) • Avoids pollution • Improves soil fertility conservation • Lowers or eliminates consumption of agrochemicals • Allows for the use of residues as fuel, animal feed or raw material • Alternative to chemical fertilizers—recycled wastes and residues (filter mud) and liquid effluents as irrigated water

  20. Multiple Uses • Sugarcane ethanol • Cane bagasse—renewable source of fibrous raw material that can replace wood in some applications and be made into paper/cardboard • Wood replacement to forest conservation • Industry by-products serve as feed support for both ruminants and swine

  21. Works Cited 2005 Agriculture and Environment:Commodities. Electronic document,, accessed April 22, 2007. Ayala, Cesar 1999 American Sugar Kingdom: The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean 1898-1934. London: University of North Carolina Press. Chasteen, John 2006 Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Classen, Constance 1996 SUGAR CANE, COCA-COLA AND HYPERMARKETS: CONSUMPTION AND SURREALISM IN THE ARGENTINE NORTHWEST. InCross-Cultural Consumption: Global Markets, Local Realitities. David Howes, ed. Pp. 39-54. London: Routledge. Cordoves Herrera, Marianela Cane, Sugar and the Environment. Electronic document, Dye, Alan 1998 Cuban Sugar in the Age of Mass Production: Technology and the Economics of the Sugar Central 1899-1929. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Mintz, Sindey W 1985 Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books. Monreal, Pedro 2002 Development Prospects in Cuba: An Agenda in the Making. London: Institute of Latin American Studies. Rodrigue, John 2001 Reconstruction in the Cane Fields: From Slavery to Free Labor in Louisiana’s Sugar Parishes 1862-1880. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. Schwartz, Stuart 1985 Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550-1835. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.