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Sugar power

14 7 31

Fondness for sweetness is surely the weakness of mankind. Once hooked to the seductive sweet taste, it is hard to wean oneself from the comforting cradle of sweetness. However, sugar was a rarity in Europe for centuries. In history, sugar was long obtained from sugar cane, originally produced in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. During the Indian Campaign of Alexander the Great, his officer Nearchus wrote of sugar cane as “reed giving honey without bees.” Crusaders described it as “sweet salt” and brought the stuff to Europe while the Arabs had already introduced sugar to Sicily by the 10th century, establishing sugar mills on the island.

Before the advance of sugar manufacture in Europe, sugar made from cane had to be mostly brought from faraway colonies, so it always remained as an expensive luxury item. Sugar cane could only be grown in tropical and subtropical zones and in some parts of the Mediterranean such as Sicily, Cyprus and Egypt. In search for producing a sugar from an alternative crop suited to European climate led to several researches and the winner was Beta vulgaris, the sugar beet. Sugar was first successfully isolated from beetroot in 1747 in Silesia; further selections were made to create the beet with the highest sugar content and eventually white Silesian sugar beet was the new ideal crop. However, industrial sugar manufacture did not take off until the early 19th century. It happened only after the bitter crisis between the British and the French when British fleets implemented a tight blockade to cut off France from importing goods. Eventually, Napoleon decided to produce French sugar as a reaction to........

© Hürriyet Daily News