Le Prix du Sucre
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Today’s society, as many before it, views sugar as the embodiment of pleasure, luxury, and jubilance. Society’s infatuation with sugar is seen in the figurative usage of the word sweet, the association of children with sweetness, the belief that sugar makes one giddy, and the necessary presence of sugar at joyous celebrations. What festivity would be complete without the consumption of sugary delights? Yet, the role sugar played in the project of empire and the long-standing effects of the sugar trade tell a bleaker tale of a commodity stained with the blood of humans and marked with the treachery of consumerism. Though numerous commodities, or more specifically cash crops, helped to shape society, sugar is unmatched in its effects on economies, cultures, politics, health, and the environment. The study of the sugar revolution reveals “the transformative power of a single commodity” that is best termed as “crop determinism” (Higman 213). The immense influence of sugar and the similar current cash crop domination expose the power of agriculture in our society and, ultimately, the power of consumers and their desires. The conditions that gave birth to the sugar revolution in the Caribbean and the consequences of commodity globalization display the unparalleled power of sugar in society then and now, as well as the lengths humans are willing to go in order to maintain a consumer-based economy.
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