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Monday, February 28, 2011

Awww, Sugar Sugar

I recently spent my honeymoon in Fiji. Beautiful country - lots of touristy things to do but if you leave the 5 star resort area and pristine beaches to head inland - you'll see an awful lot of this luscious green crop: sugarcane.

(photo courtesy of

Sugarcane yields products such as white table sugar, molasses, rum and ethanol. It is produced in over 110 countries and the U.S. ranked 10th in world sugarcane production in 2008. In 2009, over 1,683 million metric tons was produced accounting for 22.4% of total world ag production. Sugarcane is harvested with a combine, just like wheat, corn and sorghum.

In the U.S. soda is produced using high fructose corn syrup while in many other countries, pure sugar (derived from sugarcane) is used instead. This switcharoo in ingredients causes soda in varying countries to taste differently. I realized this first in Germany, then South Africa, then Fiji and now while in Australia. It takes some getting used to!

Sugarcane is used for a wide variety of things in the U.S. however it is not a huge part of our GDP. This is a similar case with rice and bananas. However, in small developing countries like Fiji, sugarcane is a front runner in the development and maintenance of a stabilized economy. There are over 22,000 sugarcane growers in Fiji all who contribute to exporting the surplus of their valuable product. It's mutually beneficial for the U.S. to have free trade agreements with countries like Fiji so that both parties can receive goods without being subject to excessive taxes.

It's important to be mindful of where certain staples in our food supply come from  - whether from home soil or abroad.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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