The Hawaiian Islands are the ideal environment for sugar cane. Sugar is condensed into sucrose before being crystallized into granular sugar. In Northern California, sugar is grown and processed from sugar beets instead of cane.
The Ancient Chinese developed a technology to extract cane juice between rotating stone mills; Christopher Columbus brought the sugar industry to the Caribbean Islands. Sugar played a role in several global conflicts including the American Revolution and Britain's battle with France for the West Indies sugar trade; Napoleon was instrumental in spreading sugar production throughout Europe.
Most sugar consumption comes from industrially processed foods; molasses is primarily used in rum production and has a different flavor from white sugar. Soft drinks are primarily made with high fructose corn syrup.
Brazil, the world leader in sugar production, has vastly reduced its dependence on oil by converting sugar into ethanol, which is an alternative to traditional motor fuels; Brazil has also developed Flex Fuel vehicles that can run on ethanol, gasoline, or a mixture of both. While all automobiles emit pollutants, ethanol is half of the price of gas.
The Hawaiian Commercial Sugar Company's factories generate their own power through the bagasse, a fibrous residue from the cane plant created when the sugar cane is processed; this plant generates a portion of the electricity distributed by Maui Electric. Scientists believe one day sugar will be used to produce pharmaceuticals; experiments have shown sugar plants can act as a host for human DNA and safely grow human protein.
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The sugar industry came of age on the backs of slaves toiling in Caribbean fields, and British desire to control production of sugar and its byproduct, rum. Sugar also played a surprisingly critical part in America's battle for independence.
Length: 44 minutes
Copyright date: ©2005
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