Sugar Rushes

For millions of years our ancestors' diet was filled with the richest fruit from the tops of the tree canopy in the rain forest. When climates changed and our traditional sources of energy dwindled, many species died along with that disappearing bounty, but those with the ability to process sugar survived. About 10,000 years ago, somewhere in Asia, sugarcane was first farmed, and later, in India, these sweet stalks were turned into "khanda," or candy. Sugar was then carried from India along the Silk Road to China, the Middle East and Europe. People began to consume it voraciously through Europe's three newly discovered culinary drugs: chocolate from the New World, coffee from the Middle East and tea from the Far East. Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the Caribbean, where the plant thrived and would ultimately reveal the dark side of sugar: the slave trade. Industrialization created new ways to produce even more refined sugar, and the golden age of the candy bar followed. Sugar consumption reflects both our fears about who we are and our fantasies about who we might become. The story of sugar is the story of us.

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