Posted in Kafevend Blog

"Ah ha!" thought I; "People put sugar in tea and coffee, don't they?" and from that point on, a reason to write about sugar was born. Around 171 million tonnes of sugar were produced in 2011*, processed from a combination of sugarcane and sugar beet.

Sugarcane is composed of a variety of species of tall grass growing several metres high. It is considered to have originated in south and southeast Asia, particularly in India and New Guinea. Sugarcane is a tropical plant, typically grown in the tropics and subtropics.

Unlike sugarcane, sugar beet grows in the temperate zone and as such is a major crop in countries like Russia, France and the USA. It is even grown here in the UK! The part of the plant used is the root, which contains a high concentration of sugar.

The use of sugar was traditionally a luxury for those better off; poorer people often used honey as a sweetener. However, sugar became much more widely available during the time that European powers were establishing their colonies. At times it even drove the search for new lands to settle as people sought to mass produce sugarcane.

Sugar these days has come under a significant amount of flak for its supposed part in the rise of worldwide detrimental health effects- issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease to name but a few.

I intend to look into these varied and interesting facets in more detail in later articles, so stay tuned for a roller coaster ride.

*Data from FAOSTAT.

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