Honey was used for centuries as the only sweetener available to the ancient Western world. That started to change when India began to cultivate the fragile grass (sugar cane) to extract its sweet juice. Later, sugar graced the tables of the wealthy and was used by Europeans in medicines. Not until Columbus discovered the new world, and sugar cane began to be produced on a large scale in the West Indies, did sugar become accessible to the poor as well as the rich. Since that time, sugar consumption has increased to over 140 pounds of sugar eaten in one year by one person. Do you think you eat that much sugar?
Sugar is a natural carbohydrate that is found in varying amounts in every fruit and vegetable. The process of photosynthesis creates sugar in all plants, but some plants produce more sugar than others. Fruits are sweeter than vegetables because of their higher sugar content, but the two plants that produce the most sugar are the sugar cane and the sugar beet. Four U.S. states grow sugar cane: Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. Sugar beets, though, are grown more extensively in 13 states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Table sugar or granulated, brown sugar, and powdered sugar all come from either sugar cane or beets. The degree of refining and processing the sugar goes through determines which type of sugar it will end up as.