When the thirst for diversity was quenched by a massive and continuous import of spices, dyes and aromatic substances, the resulting infrastructure focused on other aspirations for diversity, especially the production and export of sugar, chocolate, tea and coffee, as well as purified alcohol – psychoactive products properties. Our present-day planetary trading system was created to satisfy people’s inherent need for diversity and stimulation: This was done with purposeful intensity, which tolerated no interference from the church or the state. Neither moral doubts nor physical barriers were able to stand in this way. Now we can seem to ourselves to be exceptionally well settled – now any “spice”, any psychoactive substance,however limited its traditional consumption zone may be, it can be identified and then produced or synthesized for speedy export and sale in the needy market anywhere in the world.
Now global pandemics of adherence to a particular substance have become possible. The import of tobacco smoking in Europe in the 16th century was the first and most obvious example. It was followed by many others – from the increased spread of opium consumption in China among the British, through the opium fashion in England in the 18th century, and to the spread of the habit of distilled alcohol among North American Indian tribes.
Of the many new products that made their way to Europe during the collapse of medieval stagnation, one stands out in particular as a product with a new taste, as a chosen substance. This is cane sugar. Sugar has been known for centuries as a rare medical substance. The Romans knew that it could be extracted from bamboo-like grass. But the tropical conditions necessary for the cultivation of sugarcane were a guarantee that sugar would be a rare and imported commodity in Europe. Only in the XIX century on the initiative of Napoleon I began to grow sugar beet as an alternative to cane sugar.
Sugar cane is known to be found in the wild, and this plant is well represented in tropical Asia. At least five species grow in India. Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) has undoubtedly undergone significant hybridization throughout its long history of domestication. The Persian king Khosrov (AD 531-578), whose court was near Jandi-Shapur, sent envoys to India to study the rumors about exotic substances.
Among them (of these substances) Sukkar (Pers. “ Shakar” ” or “ shakkar ”, Skt. “ Sarkara ” ) was brought to Jandi-Shapur from India , our “ sugar ”, unknown to Herodotus and Ctesias, but known to Nearchus and Onesikrita as “reed honey”, which supposedly is made by rees by bees. The legend tells that Khosrow found a whole warehouse of sugar among the treasures captured in the year 527 when conquering Dastigrid. In India, cane juice was cleaned and turned into sugar around 300 g. e., and now this reed began to be cultivated near Jandi-Shapur, where sugar mills were known for a long time. Then, and even after a long time, sugar was used only to sweeten bitter medicines, and only much later did he begin to replace honey as usual sweetness.
Sugar came to England around 1319, and became popular in Sweden by 1390. It was an expensive and exotic novelty, mostly speaking in its traditional medical role: sugar made acceptable a very unpleasant taste mixture – a mixture of medicinal herbs, animal entrails and other components, typical of the medieval Pharmacopoeia. Before the discovery of antibiotics, it was decided to sprinkle wounds on them before bandaging them, since the drying effect of sugar might have helped the treatment.
The Spaniards grew sugar cane in their possessions in the Caribbean, and they could claim the dubious honor of bringing slaves into the New World to produce sugar.
Until 1550, all sugar imported from the Western Hemisphere consisted of literally several heads, delivered as evidence of the possibility of its production, or simply as a curiosity. Plantations in the western islands of the Atlantic and in the New World had no effect on sugar production, its distribution and prices until the second half of the 16th century and gained dominant influence only sometime since 1650.