The processed, crystalized substance made largely from sugarcane, but sometimes sugar beets. It is white and grainy in appearance and sweet in flavor. This entry focuses more on sugar made from sugarcane.
Sugarcane originated in New Guinea, and processed sugar can be traced to Northern India.
Christopher Columbus introduced sugarcane to the Caribbean in 1493. The crop grew well in the Caribbean, southern North America, Central America, and northern South America. It was labor intensive to grow, but extremely lucrative. European countries built fortunes through colonies in the Americas, reliant on the plunder and forced labor of enslaved people from Africa as well as Native Americans.
Sugar is used to treat coughs, constipation, and skin issues in Asia. A paste made out of sugar can be used to heal and pack skin wounds.
“Natural and Added Sugars: Two Sides of the Same Coin” by Mary E. Gearing (2015)
The Oxford Companion to Food. 3rd ed., by Alan Davidson and edited by Tom Jaine (2014)
“The Sugar That Saturates The American Diet Has a Barbaric History as the ‘White Gold’ That Fueled Slavery” by Khalil Gibran Muhammad (2019) https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/sugar-slave-trade-slavery.html