The Four Curses of Sugar

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Throughout its march around the world, sugarcane brought with it what the historian Peter Macinnis has called the four curses of sugar:

  • 1. Sugarcane is capital intensive and it requires large amounts of money to establish large sugarcane plantations.

  • 2. Sugarcane requires immediate processing when ready for harvest, as it deteriorates rapidly. Generally, cane juice needs to be processed by boiling within 16 to 24 hours of harvest in order to destroy enzymes and maintain sucrose.

  • 3. Sugar production consumes enormous amounts of fuel, resulting in deforestation.

  • 4. Sugar production is labor intensive, and therefore the growth of sugar meant the growth of enslavement.