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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

How we became addicted to sugar

A woman licks her sugar-covered lips

We are swamped by sugar. It has crept into all areas of our daily diet, from the sweet treats we award ourselves to family essentials such as pre-packaged loaves of bread.
We know that too much sugar is bad for us, but we are hooked - and sugar is now so ubiquitous it is hard to believe there was a time when it was not readily available.
First discovered growing as a wild grass in the South Pacific around 8,000 BC, travellers and traders helped spread sugar across the globe.
For centuries it was regarded as a status symbol, too expensive to be consumed in great quantities.
A drawing of black slaves harvesting sugar cane, watched over by a white man holding a whip
  Slaves from West Africa were forced to work on sugar plantations
Mass production of sugar saw Britain grow rich, helping to build the Empire.
It was physical work. Indentured Scots and Irishmen did much of the hard graft but they were soon replaced by a cheaper option - slaves from West Africa.
It was a dark period in British history, says David Richardson, Professor of Economic History at the University of Hull.
"I don't think you can underestimate the importance of sugar to the development of transatlantic slavery".
"Six million enslaved Africans were deposited in the West Indies, and yet when you look at the numbers liberated they're far fewer than six million. And the reason is... sugar kills slaves in the process of cultivating it and refining it," he adds.
From BBC News

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