After looking at my primary research. I decided to take a more in-depth look at the history of sugar.
History of sugar:
Extracting the sweet juice from sugar cane and turning it into crystals of sugar is a complicated process. There is little archaeological evidence to indicate just where or when cane juice was first converted into a form that could be preserved for the longer period. Most historians consider eastern India, About 2,500 years ago, the point of origin for the sugar industry. The main reason for this attribution is that many early Indian written sources mention cane sugar and its sweet juice.
Sugar is a standard part of human life. From the time of its invention, refined sugar has been a part of our day-to-day life. Sugar was first produced from sugarcane plants in northern India sometime after the first century. The derivation of the word “sugar” is thought to have been from Sanskrit and Sanskrit literature from India, written between 1500 – 500 B. C., provides the first documentation of the cultivation of sugar cane and manufacture of sugar in the Bengal region of India. The Sanskrit name for a crudely made sugar substance was “Guda”, meaning “to make a ball or to conglomerate.”
The history of sugar has five main phases:
1. The extraction of sugar cane juice from the sugarcane plant; and, the subsequent domestication of the plant in tropical Southeast Asia sometime around 8,000 B.C.
2. The invention of manufacture of cane sugar granules from the sugarcane juice in India a little over two thousand years ago, followed by improvements in refining the crystal granules in India in the early centuries A.D.
3. The spread of cultivation and manufacture of cane sugar to the medieval Islamic world together with some improvements in production methods.
4. The spread of agriculture and manufacture of cane sugar to the West Indies and tropical parts of the Americas beginning in the 16th century, followed by more intensive improvements in production in the 17th through 19th centuries in that part of the world.
5. The development of beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Early use of sugarcane in India:
Sugarcane originated in tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia. Different species likely originated in different locations with S. Barberi originating in India New Guinea.Originally, people chewed sugarcane raw to extract its sweetness. Indians discovered how to crystallize sugar during the Gupta dynasty.
Indian sailors, consumers of clarified butter and sugar, carried sugar by various trade routes. Traveling Buddhist monks brought sugar crystallization methods to China.During the reign of Harsha (r. 606–647) in North India, Indian envoys in Tang China taught sugarcane cultivation methods after Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626–649) made his interest in sugar known, and China soon established its first sugarcane cultivation in the seventh century. Sugar became a staple of cooking and desserts. In the year 1792, sugar rose by degrees to an enormous price in Great Britain. The East India Company was then called upon to lend their assistance to help in the lowering of the price of sugar. On 15 March 1792, his Majesty’s Ministers to the British Parliament presented a report related to the production of refined sugar in British India.sugar could be produced in India with many superior advantages, and a lot more cheaply than in the West Indies.
Sugar cultivation in the New World:
The Portuguese took sugar to Brazil. By 1540, there were 800 cane sugar mills in Santa Catarina Island and there were another 2,000 on the north coast of Brazil, Demarara, and Surinam. The first sugar harvest happened in Hispaniola in 1501, and many sugar mills had been constructed in Cuba and Jamaica by the 1520s.Contemporaries often compared the worth of sugar with valuable commodities including musk, pearls, and spices. Sugar prices declined slowly as its production became multi-sourced, especially through British colonial policy. Formerly an indulgence of only the rich, the consumption of sugar also became increasingly common among the poor as well. Sugar production increased in mainland North American colonies, in Cuba, and in Brazil. The labour force at first included European indentured servants and local Native American slaves. However, European diseases such as smallpox and African ones such as malaria and yellow fever soon reduced the numbers of local Native Americans.
Europeans were also very susceptible to malaria and yellow fever, and the supply of indentured servants was limited. African slaves became the dominant source of plantation workers because they were more resistant to malaria and yellow fever and because the supply of slaves was abundant on the African coast.
A 19th-century lithograph by Theodore Bray showing a sugarcane plantation. On right is “white officer”, the European overseer. Slave workers toil during the harvest. To the left is a flat-bottomed vessel for cane transportation.
As Europeans established sugar plantations on the larger Caribbean islands, prices fell, especially in Britain.
Sugarcane quickly exhausts the soil in which it grows, and planters pressed larger islands with fresher soil into production in the nineteenth century as demand for sugar in Europe continued to increase: “average consumption in Britain rose from four pounds per head in 1700 to eighteen pounds in 1800, thirty-six pounds by 1850 and over one hundred pounds by the twentieth century.” In the 19th century, Cuba rose to become the richest land in the Caribbean (with sugar as its dominant crop) because it formed the only major island landmass free of mountainous terrain. Instead, nearly three-quarters of its land formed a rolling plain — ideal for planting crops.
I think the history of sugar is quite unuseful for my project. it’s too deep and quite serious in a political way. so I have a class with Jo in next week. I think I need some help from her feedback about my concept.
Dansukker.co.uk. (2018). How sugar arrived in Europe – Dansukker. [online] Available at: https://www.dansukker.co.uk/uk/about-sugar/how-sugar-arrived-in-europe.aspx [Accessed 23 Feb. 2018].
En.wikipedia.org. (2018). History of sugar. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sugar [Accessed 23 Feb. 2018].
Sucrose.com. (2018). SKIL – History of Sugar. [online] Available at: http://www.sucrose.com/lhist.html [Accessed 23 Feb. 2018].