SIDNEY MINTZ SWEETNESS AND POWER PDF

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The Cape of Good Hope With New Observations on Nature and Mankind by an Officer of the King (). SIDNEY W. MINTZ. SWEETNESS. AND POWER. Mintz - Sweetness and Power - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or view my colleague Profesor Ashraf Ghani, as well as Dr. Sidney Cantor. -3 3 t..i t.3 c 1. /iJG&t-s i t1. SIDNEY.W. MINTZ. SWEETNESS. AND POWER. THE PLACE OF SUGAR. IN MODERN HISTORY. DEDALUS-ACERVO-FEA.


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Sidney Mintz (‐) Quoted in Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York,. NY: Viking, ), p. In Sweetness and Power, Sidney Mintz illuminates and discusses the social and economic He examines the power structures that made it possible for sugar to. (London: J. Johnson & J. Edwards, ). (Photo courtesy of Richard and Sally Price). SIDNEY W. MINTZ. SWEETNESS. AND POWER. THE PLACE OF SUGAR .

But it is nevertheless possible to show how some people and goups unfa miliar with sugar and other newly imported ingetble gradually became users of it-even, quite rapidly, daily users. Indeed, there is much evidence that many consumers, over rime, would have gladly xxvi. MTODUCON eaten more sugar had they ben able to get it, while mose who were already consuming it regularly were prepared only reluCantly to reduce or forgo its use. Because anthropology is concered with how people stubbornly maintain past practices, even when under strong negative pressures, but repudiate other behaviors quite read ily in order to act differently, cllIaterials throw light Upoll the historical crcumstance from a perspectve rather different from the historian's.

Sweetness and power : the place of sugar in modern history

Though I cannot answer many questions that historians might bring to thee data, I shall suggest that anth. Now, the fact that most of us anthropologsts have not made such studies has not weakened the general belief mat anthropology's strength as a discipline comes from knowing about societes the behaviors of whose members arc sufficiently different from our own, yet arc based on sufficiently similar prin ciple, to allow us to document the marvelous variability of human custom while vouchsafng the unshakable, esental oneness of the species.

This belief has a great deal to recommend it. It is, anyway, my own view. Yet it has unfortunately led anthropologists in the past to bypass willfully any society that appeared in one regard or another nOt to qualify as "primitive"-or even, occasionally, to ignore information that made it clear that the society being studied was not quite so primitve or isolated as the anthropologst would like.

The latter is not an outight suppresion of data vmuch as an incapacty or unwillingness to take such data into accunt the oretically. It is easy to he crirical of one's predecessors.

But how can one refrain from counterposing Malinowski's studied instruc tions about learning the natives' point of view by avoiding other Europeans mte field,' with his rather casual observaton that the same natve had leared to play cricket in the mission schools years before he began his fieldwork? True, Malinowski never denied the' presence of other Europeans, or of European influence-indeed, he eventually reproached himself for too studiedly ignoring the Eu-.

IOOuON ropean presence, and called this his most serious defcency. But in much of his work, the West in it guises was played down or even igored, leaving behind an allegedly pristine primitivity, colly obser ved by the anthropologist-as-hero.

Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History

This curious contrast unspoiled aborignes on the one hand, hymn-singing mission chil dren on the other-is not an iv audone. By some stange sleight of hand, one anthropological monogaph after another whisks out of view any sigs of the prescnt and how it came to be. This van ishing act imposes burdens on those who feel the need to perform it; those of us who do not ought to have been thinking much more soberly about what anthropologists should study.

Many of anthropology's most distnguished contemporary prac ttioners have ted their anenton to so-called modem or wester societies, but they and the rest of us m to want to maintain the illusion of what one of my colleagues has aptly dubbed "te un cntaminated McCoy. This surely has its positive side. Yet the uncomfortable inference is that such groups most closely approximate the anthropological no rion of the primitive. In the preset instance, the prosaic quality of the subject maner is inecapable; what could be les "anthropologcal" tan te his torical eamination of a food tat gace every moder table?

And yet the anthropology of just such homely, everyday substance may help us todat. We must still take into account the insttutions anthropologists cherish-kinship, family, marriage, rit de pas- xxviii. We woud sti l l qto fnd out more about fewer people than les about more people. We would sti l l, I blieve, put credenc in fieldwork, and would value what informants say, as well as what they aspire to and what they do. This would, of course, have to be a differet anthropology.

As the archaeologst Robert Adams has suggeted, anthropologsts will no longer be able to invoke scientific "objectivity" to protect themselves from the po litical implications of their fndings, if their subject tum out simply to be fellow citizes who are poorer or les influential than they.

And this new anthropology does not yet wholly exist. The present book, mainly historical in nature, aspire t take a step in it di rection. My contenton is that the socal history of the use of new foods in a wet naton can contibute to an anthropology of modem life. It would, of course, be immensely satisfing to be able to declare thai my brooding about sugar for thiny years has resulted in some clear-cut aligment, the solution toa puzzle, the reolution of some contradiction, perhaps even a discovery.

But I remain un certain. This book has tended to write itself; I have watched the process, hoping it would reveal something I did not already know. The organizaton of the volume is simple.

In chapter ,Iattempt to open the subject of the anthropology of mand eatng, as part of an anthropology of modem life. Tis leads me to a discussion of swcttes, as opposed tosweet substances. Sweetes is a tast what Hobbes called a "Qualiry"-and the sugars, sucrose which is won principally from the cane and the sugar bet among them, are substances that excite the sensation of sweetess. Since any normal human being can apparently experience SWeetness, and since all the societies we know of recognize it, something abom swee01ess must be linked to our characte as a specie.

Yet the liking for sweet things is of highly variable intensity. Hence, an explanation of why some peoples eat lotS of sweet thing and others hardly any cnnot rely on the idea of the specie-wide characteristc. How, then, does a particular people bcome firmly habituated to a large, regular, and dependable supply of sweetes?

Sugar made from the juice of the cane had reached England in small quantities by about A. In chapter 2,. From onward, sugar began to change from a luxury and a rarity into a cmmonplace and a necessity in many natons, England among them; with a few sigificant exceptions, this in creased consumption after accmpanied the "development" of the Wet.

Itwas, I believe, the second or possibly the first, if onediscounts tobacco lled luxury transformed in this fashion, epitmizing the prouctve trust and emerging intent of world cpitalism. I therefore also focus on the p ions that supplied the United Kingdom with sugar, molasse, and rum: I hope to show the special signifcance of a colonial product like sugar in the growth of world capitalism.

Thereafter, in chapter 3, I discuss the commmption nU r. My aim is, ft to show how producton and consumption were so closely bound together that each may be said partly to have deter mined the other, and, second, to show that consumption must be explained in terms of what people didand thought: The relatonship between production and consumption may even be paralleled by the relationship between use and meaning.

I don't think meaning inhere in substances nat urally or inevitably. Rather, I be l ieve that meaning arises out of use, as pople use substances in social relatonships. Outide fotces often determine what is available to be endowed with meaning. If the users themselves do not so much determine what is available to b used a add meanings to what is available, what doe that say about meaning?

A, what point do the pre rogatve to bestow meaning move from the cnsumers to the sellers? Or could it be that the power to bestow meaning always accom panie the power to determine availabilites? What do such ques- xx IOOUON Dons-and teir answers-mean for our understanding of the operaton of modem society, and for our unkrstanding of freedom and individualism?

In chapter 4, I try to say something about why things happened as thq did, and I attempt some treannent of cinumstanc.

Finally, in chapter 5, offr a few sugestions about where sugar, and the study of sugar in modem society, may b going. I have suggested that anthropology is showing some un certainty about it own future. Aanthropology of moder life and of food and earing, kr example, cannot ignoce fieldwork or do without it.

My hope is that I have identified problems of significance concering which fieldwork might eventually yield result useful for both theory and policy.

Sweetness and Power

My bias in a historical directon will be apparent. Though I do not accept uncritcally the dictum that anthropology must become history or be noting at all, I believe that without history its ex planatory power is seriously compromised.

Social phenomena are by their nature historical, which is to say that the relationships among events in one "moment" can never be abstracted from their past and future setting. Aument about iMnent human nature.

Human being do create social strcntres, and doendow events with meaning; but these structures and meanings have his torical origns that shape, limit, and help toexplain such creativity.

Like languages and all other socially ac quired goup habits, lood systems dramatcally demonstate te infcaspc vaability of humankind. It is almost too obvious to dwell on: Of course, food choices are related in some ways to availability, but human beings never eat every edible and available food in their environment.

Moreover, their food prefrencs are dose to the cen U of their self-definition: The need for nourishment is expressed in the course of all human interacton. Food choices and carng habits reveal ditinctons of age, statuS, culture, and even occupaton. These distinctons are immensely important adorments on an inescapable necessity. U the life of te individual organism it i s the more primary and recurrent want, while i n the wider sphere of 5WAW PK human socety it determine. Hunger epitomizes the relaton twttn its dependence and the social uninrse of which it inust becme a part.

Eatng and nurturance are closely linked in infancy and childhood, no matter how their cnneaion may altud later. Fod prefrences that emerge early in life do so within the bounds laid down by those who do the nurturing, and therefore within the rules of their society and culturr. Ingeton and tastes hece carry an enormous affective load. What we like, what N eat, how we ear it, and how we feel about it phenomenologclly interrelated matters; togcther, they speak eloquently to the queon of how we rcive ourselves in reJaton to othen.

From the beginning, anthropology has concered itself with food and ingestion. Roberton Smith, a founding father of anthropology, who examined eating together as a special social act he was inter rrc in thc sarica meal, n connccron with which he use the term "commensals" to describe the relaton bctwttn gods and hu man being , saw the brg of bread by gods with men as "a symbol and a confrmation of felowship and mutual social obli gations.

In an early artcle, Lora Marshall provided a glowing descripton of how sharing food serves to reduce individual and intragroup tension.

Kung Bushmen, she reported, always consumed fresh meat i mmediately after it became available: If tere is hunger, it is commonly shared. There are no distinct haves and have-nots. One is not alone. Lions culd do that tey say, not men. She recorded sixty-three gft of raw meat and thought there had mmany more.

Small quantitie of meat wett rapidly diffused, passed on in ever-diminishing porons. This swift. Each occasion to eat meat was hence 3 natural 1 ion to diver who one M how one was related to others, and what that entailed. The connectons betwttn food and kinship, or fod and social goups, take radically different forms in modem life.

Yet sureJy food and eating have not lost their affective sigificance, tough as a means for validating existing social relations their importance and their frm are now almost unrecogizably different, So an anthro pologcal study of cntemporary weter food and eatng may to answer some of dsame quetons as are asked by our anthro pologcal predX rs, such as Richards, Roberton Smith, and Marshbut both te data and the methods will differ substan tially.

In this study, I have tried to place a single food, or category of m ,in the evolution of a modem wester naton's diet. It involved no fieldwork per se-though I stumbled across issues that might be better understood if fieldwork were dirttted to their e positon.

Moreover, though I touch on the social aspect of inges rion, I am conced less with meals and more with mealtme how meals were adapted tomodem, industial society, or how that society affected the sociality of ingeston, how foods and the ways to eat them were added to a diet or eiminated from it. Specifcally, I concerned with a single substance called sucrose, 3 kind of sugar tcted primarily fom the sugar cane, and with what became of it. The story can be summed up ma fewsentence. Euroans knew of the existenc of sucrose, or cane sugar, But son 3ftrward they leed about it; by , in bA PW England the nobility and the wealty had become inveterate sugar eaters, and sugar figured in tbeir medicine, literary imagery, and displays of rank.

By no later than , sugar had become a ne cessity-albeit a cosdy and rare one-in the diet of every English person; by , it was supplying nearly one-fifth of the calorie in the English diet.

How and why did this happen? What turned an exotic, foreig, and costly substance into te daily fare of even the poorest and humblet pople? How oould it have become so imporant so swiftly? What did sugar mean to the rulers of the Uniced Kingdom; what did it come to mean to the ordinary folk who became its mass consumers?

The answers may seem self-evident; sugar is sweet, and human beings like sweetness. But when unfamiliar substances are taken up by new users, they enter into pre-existing social and psy chological contexts and acquire-or are gven-contextual mean ings by those who use them.

How that happens is by no means obvious. That human beings like the taste of sweetness does not explain why some eat immense quantties of sweet foods and others hardly any. These are not just individual diferences, but differences among goups, as well. Uses imply meaning; tolear the anthropology of sugar, we need to explore the meanings of its uses, to discover the early and more limited uses of sugar, and to lear where and for what orignal purposes sugar was produced.

This means examining the sourcs of supply, the chronology of uses, and the combination of sugar with other foodS-including honey, which is also sweet, and tea, coffee, and chocolate, which are bitter-in te making of new di etary patters. The sources of sugar involve those tropical and sub tropical regons that were tansfonned into Britsh colonies, and so we must examine the relationships between such colonies and the motherland, also the areas that produced no sugar but the tea with which it was drunk, and the people who were enslaved in order to produce it.

Such an inquiry inevitbly bring many more questions m its wake. We need to reflect on those social reformers, such as Jonas Hanway, who inveighed against the wastefulness and prodigality of the laboring classes because they came to want tea and sugar; and on their opponent, the sugar brokers and refiners and shippers, such as George Porter, who won out over the reformers because tey envisioned sugar's benefactons for all Englishmen-and strug gled to change the nature of the market.

This also means seeing how, over rime, the exigencies of work changed where, how, and when ordinary people ate, and how new foods wer created, with new virtues. Perhaps most important of all, we must understand how, in the creation of an entirely new economic system, strange and foreign luxuries, unknown even to European nobility a few short centuries earlier, could so swiftly become part of the crucial socal Center of British daily life, the universal substances of socal relationship for the farthest-flung empire i world history.

And then we shall have retured-though on a different level of explana ton-to our fellow humans the! Kung, dividing and redividing ther eland meat as they validate te social worth of rhe links thOt bind them to one another.

The Place of Sugar in Modern History

Studying the varying use of a single ingestble like sugar is rather like using a litmus test on p3rticular environment. Any such trace able fature can highlight, by irs intensity, scale, and perhaps spread, it assocation with orher features with which it has 3 regular but not invariant relaton, and in some cases can serve as an index of them.

Such associatons can be broad and important-as between rats and disease, or drought and famine, or nutiton and fertility-. The affinity between such phenomena may be intrinsic and explicable, as with, say, rats and disease. But of course the associaton may also be quite arbitrary, neither "causal" nor "functonal," as in the case of sugar and spice-substances freig mEurope, carried thenc from dis tnt lands, gradually entering into the diet of people trying them out for the frst rme; Iinked together mostly by the accidet of usage and, to some extent, by origin, but overlapping and diverging as their uses overlapped and diverged and as the demand for tem rose and fell.

And sugar was assocated with tea, cofee, and chocolate; much of its history in the,late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries springs from that partcular association.

Sugar was also first associated with the rich and the noble classes, and it remained out of the reach of the less privile,ed for centuries.

In staying with sugar, the aim is not to de-emphasize other foods, bm to make clear the changng uses and meaning of sugar itself over rime. As uses change or acc added on, as use both deepens and broadens, meanings also change. Tere is nothing "natura'" or inevitable about these processes; they have no inbuih dynamic of their own. The relationship between the producton of sugar and its consumption changed over rme and, as it did, the uses to which sugar was put and me meaning to which it gave rise also changed.

By keeping sugar itself as the focus, we can actually see more clearly how its relationship other foods, mose wim which it was com bined and those which it eventually supplanted, was altered. Nutritionists can construct diets for the species based on the best scientifc information available. We appear to b capable of eating and liking JUSt about anything mat is not immediately toxic. Cross-cultural studies of dietary preferences reveal eloquently that the universes mat human groups treat matter of-factly as their "nanlCal environments" are clearly social, sym bolically constructed universes.

What constitutes "good food," like what constitutes good weather, a good spouse, or a fulfilling life, is a social, not a biologicl, matter. Good food, as Uvi-Strauss suggested long ago, must be good to think about before it becomes good to eat.

If we look at the whole sweep of human cultural evolution and concentrate on that last "minute" of geologcal tme when the do mestication of plants and animals O Urs, we can s that almost aU human beings who have ever lived were members of societies in which some one partcular vegetable food was "good.

J Most great and many minor sedentary civilizations have ben built on the cultivaton of a particular complex carbohydrate, such as maize or potatoes or rice or millet or wheat, In these starch based societies, usually but not always horticultural or agricultural, pple are nourished by their bodily conversion of me complex carbohydrates, either gains or tuhers, i nto body sugars.

For us it requires a real effort of imaginaton V visualize a state of scie[ in which fod matters so much and from so many points of view. To the Bemba each meal, 1Dbe utisfctory, must be composed of to consttuents: The hot water and meal are mixed in proporti.

Ubwali is eaten i n hunks tom off in the hand, rolled into balls, dipped in relish, and bolted whole. Millet has already been described as the main consttuent of Bemba diet, but it is difficult for the European, accustomed as he is Da large variety of foodstuffs,11DaiZfully what a "staple crop" can mean to a primitive people. We have not had a bite to Call day. I proverb O folktale the ubwli stands for h itself. The umutni i s applied Dstews-meat, 6sh, caterpilla locust, ant, vegetables wild and cultvated , mushroms, etc.

The functions of the rdish are two: A lump of porridge is glutinous and also gitty the latter not only owing to the flour of which it is made, but the extraneous mattr mixe in with it on the grindstone.

It needs a cating of something slippery to make it slide down the mroat. Dipping the porridge in a liquid stew make' it easier to swallow.

Thus the use of umutani, which to European eyes adds valuable construenq t0the diet, is defnded by the native on the groud that it overcomes the purely mechanical diffculty of gettng the food down the throat.

The Bemba himself explains that the uuc is not food. The Bemba do M like tO mix their fos, depise te Eur habit of etng a meal cmpsed of or thre kinds of dishe. He clls habit ulusklya and one uid, "II is like a bird first to pick al mis and Ihm at that, or lik a chid who nibble here mere through the day. It calendar of growth ft with their calendar of the year, its needs are, in some curious ways, their needs. It provides the raw materials out of which. It character, name, distinctIve tastes and tex WDy the difcultes associated with its cultvalion, it history, mythical or not, arc projecte on the human afairs of a people who consider what they cat to be te basic food, to be the defniton of m But some one such single mbe boring.

People brought up in starcherd Cm may feel they have nOt really eaten unles they have had ubwali tortllas, no, potatoe, bread. Why this should be b is not entirely dear, but over and over again the cntricty of the complex carbohydrates is accompanied by its contrastve pe riphery. Elisabeth and Paul Rozn call one aspect of this common structural patter a "flavor principle" and they have drawn up lists of distinctive regonal flavors, like te nUD mom of Southeast Asia, the chili peppers Csicm speces of Mexico, West Africa, and parts of India and Cina, the sofito of the Hispanic Americans, and so on.

Far EaSt which accompany rice or millet-these supplementary tastes gain their importance bu they make basic starche ingetvely more interetng. They aJso may supply imporunl, ofen esental. Even in diet where a wider range of possibilite appears Vbe available, a general relatonship between "center" and "edge" is usually dible. The Irish joke about "potatoe and point" before eatng one's potato, one would point it at a piece of salt pork hung above the table-is dear eough.

The habit of bread-eating peoples.

A common EaSt European combination used to be black bread, chicken fat, raw garlic, and salt. There arc scores of local variants.

Pasta is eaten with a sauce; b7YH for even the most modest the sauce change a monotonous meal into a banquet. Cormeal, couscous, bulgur, millet, yams-it hardly matters which though of course to those whose diet is built around such an item, it matters enormously: Thee supplements are not ordinarily consumed in large quan tities-hardly ever in quantities equal to th of the starches and people who eat them regularly might find the idea of doing so nauseatng.

Their taste and textures usually contast noticeably with the smoothnes, lumpiness, gittiness, chewiness, blandness, or drynes of the coked starch, but they are usually blendable substances that can be eaten when the starch itself is eaten: Commonly, they are liquid or semiliquid, soluble or meltble, often oily. Small quantt of suc supplMt wcange the character of substantal quanttes of liquid, especially if they have a strong or contrastive taSte and arc sered hot-as sauce to be ladled over strche or into which a strch is dipped.

Oiten the supplemental food contains ingredients that are sun dried, frmented, cured, smoked, salted, scmiputrefed, or otherise altered fom a natural state. In tee ways they cntast "p sually" with the principal starch as well. Many of the main starches need only to be cleaned and coked in order to be eaten. The fringe additons need not be fish, feh, fowl, or insect in orign; often they are grasses such as watercress, chives, mint, or seaweed bitter, sour, pungent, chewy, slimy ; lichens, mushrooms, or other fung moldy-bitter, crisp, "cold" ; dried spices trt, bitter, "hot," aromatic ; or cenain fruits, either fresh or preserved sour, sweet, juicy, fibrous, rough.

Because they may stng, bur, intensify thirst, stimulate salivaton.

And there is no doubt that they increase te consumpton of the core food. In te last two or thre centuries. These late-appearing adaptations. What people eat expresses who and what they are, to themselves and to orhers. The congruence of dietary patter and their societes reveals the way cultural forms are maintained by the ongoing activity of those who "carry" such forms, whose behavior actualizes and incates them. Given te remarkable capacity of human being to change, and of societies to be transformed, one must nonetheless imagine what would be in volved i n tng the Mexicn people into eaters of black bread, te Russian people Into carers of maize, or the Chinese into eaters of cassava.

And it is imponant to note that the radical dietary chage of te last three hundred years have largely been achieved by revolutonary pressures i n food pDsing and consumption and by adding on new foods. M any event, transformations of diet en[3;1 quite profound aJteratons in pople's images of themselves, their notions of the contrastng vinues of traditon and change, the fabric of their daily social life.

The character of the English diet at the tme when sugar became known to Englishmen-known and then desired-is relevant to our history. For during the period when sugar was frst berming widely known, most people in England and elsewhere were strug gling to stabilize their diets around adequate quantties of starch in the form of wheat or oter grains.

What rums out to be most inteesting about the Brit i sh picture is how little it differed from eating habits and nutrition elsewhere in the world. Toay, this picture stll applie in much' , of Asia, Aca, and Ltn America; and the patter of one-starch "centicity" stll typifie prhaps three-quaners of the world's population.

Withi n a single century. This transformation exemplifies one sort of moderization. But it was not simply the consequence of other. J more Important change; indeed, in a sense it may have been the oth. Similarly, if we ask what sugar meant to the people of the United Kingd? Meanmg, short, IS the consequenc of actvity.

This does not mean that cWture i s only or is reducible to only behavior. But not to ask how meaning is put into behavior, to read the product without the producton, is to igore history on again. Culture must be understood "not simply as a product but also as production not simply as socially constituted but also as socially consttutin. Researchers working wit infant in the Unt State have con cluded that there i s a buil t-in human liking for sweet tastes, which appears "very tarly in development and is relatvely indepndent of experience.

The nutrition scholar Norge Jerome has collected information to F D, ,7SUAR ow how sucrose-rich mform part of the early acculrurational eOof non-wester people in many world are: There may be some synergy i n volved in the ingestive learng of new users: In fact. Wetem people! The existenc of m human sweet tooth can be eplained, ultm. In other words, the selectve pressures of tme past B most strikingly revealed by the artifical, superormal stmulus of refined sugar, despite the evidece that eating refned sugar is maladaptive.

That they "explain- the heavy con- 5 EWPW sumption of refned sugar by some peoples in the modem world is nol. Indeed, all oc at least nearly all mammals like swemes,lJ Tat milk, including human milk, is sweet is hardly irrelevant.

One scholar, seeking to push the link between human prefrences and sweeul: I' The new born infant usually l ives exclusively on milk at first. Jerome notes that the use of sweetened liquids as a substitute for milk foe infant feeding occurs across the world.

The first nonmilk "food" that a baby is likely to receive in Nom American hospitals is a Speecent g1ucse-and-water soluton, used to evaluate it postpartum func toning bu dnewbr tolerate gluc btan water.

Sweetness would have been known to our primat ancestors and to early human being in berries, fruit, and honey-honey being te moSt intensely sweet, by fae. Honey, of curse, u an animal product, at least in the sense that its raw material isgthered fom flowering plant by b. And whereas honey was known tohuman beings at all ievel. Sensations of swettness must be carefully distinguished from the fOOD, SU, AN SUGAR ' 17 substanc that gve rise to them; and pros sugars, suc as sucrose, dextose, and fuctose, which are manufacture and refined techn ochemically, must b di stnguished fom sugars as they occue i nnature.

For chemistS, "sugar" is a generic term for a large, varied class of organic compounds of which sucrose is but one. I concentate in this book on sucose, though there will m 0: The very idea of sweetess came tob a ated with sugar in European thought and language, though honey continued to playa privi lege minor role, paricularly in literary imagery.

The lack of clarity or specificity in European concptons of sweetness as a sensaton is noticeable. I have already remarked that, though there may be certai n ab solute species-wide features in the human taste apparatus, different people eat widely variant substances and have radically different ideas about what taStes good, especally relative to other edible substances.

Not only do individuals differ in preferences and the degee of intensity of a partcular taste that suits them, but also mere is no adequate methodology to btacket or bound the range of UD typical of prsons in any goup.

To add to ddifficulte, the lexicons of taste sensaton, even dfully recorded, are immensely difcult to tanslate for comparative purpose.

Stll, there is probably no people on earth that lacks the lexical means to decribe that category of tastes we call "sweet. Sweet tastei hlve priv ileged position in contrast to the more variable attitude toward sour, salty, and bitter taStes; this, of course, doe not rule out te common predilectons for certin sour, salty, or bitter substance.

But to say that everyone everywhere likes sweet things says noth ing about where such tastes fit into the spectrum of taste possibi l ite, how i mprtnt sweetes is, where it occurs in a taSte-prfere 18' SEA PW hierarchy, or how it is thought of in relaton to other tastes. More over, there is much evidence that people's atttude toward m including sweet foods, have varied greatly with rme and ocasion. In the moder world, one need only contast the frequency, inten sity, and scale of sugar Uin the French diet with, say.

Americans seem to like meals to end with sweetness, in desserts; others also like to start with sweetness. Moreover sweetes is. Other people seem less inclined totreat swetess as a "slot taste," suitable in only one or sevual positions; for them a sweet food might appear at any point in the meal-as one of te middle co, or as one of several dishe served simultaneously. The propesity to m sweetness with other tastes is also highly variable.

The widely different ways that sweemes is perceived and ployed support my argument that the importanc of sweemes in English taste preferences grew over rime, and was not chara'cterisrc befote the eighteent century. Though in the Wet sweemess now generally is considered by the clrure and perhaps by moSt scen tiSts a quality counter to bitteres, sourness, and saltiness, which make up the taste "teuahedron,"" or is contasted to the piquancy or mmmwim whic it is som a ate in L Mexican, and Wet Am cuisines, I suspect that thi s counter position-in which sweetness becomes the "'opposite" of every thing-is quite recnt.

Yet the contrast did not always occur when sugar became plentiful; Britain, Germany, and the Low Counties reacted difereildy, for instanc, fom France, Spain, and Italy. That some built-in predisposition to sweess i spart of the hu man equipment seems inarguable. But it cannot possibly explain differing food systems, degee of preference, and taxonomie of taste-any more than me anatomy of the lled organs of speech can "explain" any particular language. It is the borderline betWeen our human liking for sweetness and te supposed English "sweet tooth" that I hope to illuminate in what follows.

It can b commercally extacted from various plant sources, and it 1 in all green plants. I A plant food manufac photosynthercaUy from crbon dioxide and water, su is mus a fundamental feature of te chemicl archi tecture of living things.

The two most important source of prO d sucrose-of the refined carbohydrate product we consume and call "sugar"-are thesugr cane and the sugar U. Sugar bNTnorenomically important as a source of sucrose untl the middle of the nineteenth cenmey, but sugar cane has been the prime source of sucrose for more than a millennium-perhaps for much longer.

The sugar cane Sacharm off uinarm L. The botanists Artschwager and Brandes believe that there were three diffusions of sugar cne from New Guinea, the htaking place around 80B. Perhaps twO thousand years later, the cane was, carried to the Philippines and India.

There are some earlier references in Indian literature. The Mahibhihya of Patanjali, for instance, a commentary on Pa nini's study of Sanskrit, the first grammar of a language ever written probably around a. But it is open to doubt. Kung, dividing and redividing ther eland meat as they validate te social worth of rhe links thOt bind them to one another. Studying the varying use of a single ingestble like sugar is rather like using a litmus test on p3rticular environment.

Any such trace able fature can highlight, by irs intensity, scale, and perhaps spread, it assocation with orher features with which it has 3 regular but not invariant relaton, and in some cases can serve as an index of them. Such associatons can be broad and important-as between rats and disease, or drought and famine, or nutiton and fertility-. The affinity between such phenomena may be intrinsic and explicable, as with, say, rats and disease. But of course the associaton may also be quite arbitrary, neither "causal" nor "functonal," as in the case of sugar and spice-substances freig mEurope, carried thenc from dis tnt lands, gradually entering into the diet of people trying them out for the frst rme; Iinked together mostly by the accidet of usage and, to some extent, by origin, but overlapping and diverging as their uses overlapped and diverged and as the demand for tem rose and fell.

Sugar has bee assocated during irs history wirh slavery, in the colonies; with meat, in flavoring or concealing taste; 8- with fruit, in ping; with honey, as a substitute and rival. And sugar was assocated with tea, cofee, and chocolate; much of its history in the,late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries springs from that partcular association.

Sugar was also first associated with the rich and the noble classes, and it remained out of the reach of the less privile,ed for centuries. In staying with sugar, the aim is not to de-emphasize other foods, bm to make clear the changng uses and meaning of sugar itself over rime.

As uses change or acc added on, as use both deepens and broadens, meanings also change. Tere is nothing "natura'" or inevitable about these processes; they have no inbuih dynamic of their own. The relationship between the producton of sugar and its consumption changed over rme and, as it did, the uses to which sugar was put and me meaning to which it gave rise also changed.

By keeping sugar itself as the focus, we can actually see more clearly how its relationship other foods, mose wim which it was com bined and those which it eventually supplanted, was altered. Nutritionists can construct diets for the species based on the best scientifc information available. We appear to b capable of eating and liking JUSt about anything mat is not immediately toxic.

Cross-cultural studies of dietary preferences reveal eloquently that the universes mat human groups treat matter of-factly as their "nanlCal environments" are clearly social, sym bolically constructed universes. What constitutes "good food," like what constitutes good weather, a good spouse, or a fulfilling life, is a social, not a biologicl, matter. Good food, as Uvi-Strauss suggested long ago, must be good to think about before it becomes good to eat.

If we look at the whole sweep of human cultural evolution and concentrate on that last "minute" of geologcal tme when the do mestication of plants and animals O Urs, we can s that almost aU human beings who have ever lived were members of societies in which some one partcular vegetable food was "good.

J Most great and many minor sedentary civilizations have ben built on the cultivaton of a particular complex carbohydrate, such as maize or potatoes or rice or millet or wheat, In these starch based societies, usually but not always horticultural or agricultural, pple are nourished by their bodily conversion of me complex carbohydrates, either gains or tuhers, i nto body sugars.

To the Bemba each meal, 1Dbe utisfctory, must be composed of to consttuents: a thick porridge ubwalt made of millet and the relish uun of vegetables, meat or fsh, which is eaten with it.

The hot water and meal are mixed in proporti. Ubwali is eaten i n hunks tom off in the hand, rolled into balls, dipped in relish, and bolted whole.

Millet has already been described as the main consttuent of Bemba diet, but it is difficult for the European, accustomed as he is Da large variety of foodstuffs,11DaiZfully what a "staple crop" can mean to a primitive people.

We have not had a bite to Call day. I proverb O folktale the ubwli stands for h itself. The umutni i s applied Dstews-meat, 6sh, caterpilla locust, ant, vegetables wild and cultvated , mushroms, etc. Carolina Press. Trentmann, eds. In American Historical Review : Soulodre-LaFrance, eds. Hall, Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas.

Life in a Haitian Valley. Tan, eds. Giusti, and R. Small Axe Bittersweet, in Gastronomica 4 2 : Heide, and S. Muehleisen, eds. Produtores escravizados, consumidores proletarizados.

Du Bois , Annual Reviews of Anthropology Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology Times Literary Supplement, Sept 14, No. Bealer, The World of Caffeine. Times Literary Supplement, April 6 , No. Cheung, eds. Scranton, eds.

Chee-beng, eds. Current Anthropology 41 2 : June 22, Pp. Lauria-Santiago, eds. In Plotnicov, L. Scaglion, eds. Reddock, eds.One scholar has etimated that the mill fabricated by the Canary Island engneers in Santo Domingo could gind enough cane in one season'to produce tons of sugar a year if water,powered, and "perhaps a third of that tonnage" if powered by animals. Or could it be that the power to bestow meaning always accom panie the power to determine availabilites?

The origns and exact ages of such mills remain obscure. Porter, eds. Small quantitie of meat wett rapidly diffused, passed on in ever-diminishing porons. In certain respects there is nothing that refned white sugar resemble Mmuch as salt: Itwas, I believe, the second or possibly the first, if onediscounts tobacco lled luxury transformed in this fashion, epitmizing the prouctve trust and emerging intent of world cpitalism.

In the ff teent cenrury both powers looked for favorable locales for sugar production: Millet has already been described as the main consttuent of Bemba diet, but it is difficult for the European, accustomed as he is Da large variety of foodstuffs,11DaiZfully what a "staple crop" can mean to a primitive people.

LUCIA from Newark
See my other posts. I am highly influenced by intercrosse. I relish reading books almost .
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