Sugar is a crystalline carbohydrate that happens to come in different forms. The main components of sugar are sucrose and fructose, all having a sweet flavor (2). There are many different types of sugar according to their size but table sugar and other sucrose-based types of sugar are usually extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets (3).
Sugar has not always occupied a position of such importance in the world. Throughout history sugar was used primarily as a medicine or considered a luxury good. However, due to industrialization processes, production became really cheap and demand for sugar increased. It became a necessity for humans! Additionally, the brain needs glucose from carbohydrates for energy and to help us get through the day (3) and sugar can help to fulfill those requirements. Who would have ever imagined that something as small as sugar would be so important? People were not always aware of the existence of sugar; in fact, it took us a long time to discover its uses and to massively produce it.
Sugar is the world’s predominant sweetener. It is mostly used in cooking as a sweetener; however, it is also used to soften the acidity and sourness of some foods. It can be used to preserve food by stopping micro-organisms’ growth and it is used in the making of processed foods. It gives texture to food, can speed up fermentation processes. In general, it is added to many foods to enhance the flavor and texture, as well as, to improve the color and safety of a particular product. It is added to drinks. Additionally, sugar can be used to heal wounds, to grow penicillin, to set concrete faster, to elongate the life of plants, and to make the glass in film stunts (Sugar Nutrition). The reasons why sugar is used in so many different fields is because it has a really low cost of transportation, it is easy to store, and almost imperishable.
Out of all the sugarcane industry, sugar has the most important spot. However, by-products are generated from the production of sugar from sugarcane. Fuel, molasses, alcoholic drinks, bagasse, and filter mud are some of them. Sucrose can be turned into alcohol and become a substitute for gasoline. Nowadays, many economies rely on sugar and fuel production. Brazil is an example of it. Additionally, Rum is flavored and colored with burnt sugar, and many liquors derive from cane. Bagasse can be used as a fuel to either generate electricity or produce fiberboard, paper and plastics. Finally, filter mud can be used as a fertilizer. In general, the sugarcane is a profitable industry due to the unlimited uses of its byproducts and the high demand of sugar in the world (1).
(1) “The Cambridge World History of Food – Sugar.” The Cambridge World History of Food. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.cambridge.org/us/books/kiple/sugar.htm>.
(2) “What Is Sugar?” What Is Sugar. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://whyzz.com/what-is-sugar>.
(3) “About Sugar/ Types of Sugar.” Sugar Nutrition UK. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sugarnutrition.org.uk/types-production-uses.aspx>.