Mintz Sweetness And Power

445 Words2 Pages
“Sweetness and Power” by Sidney Mintz uses anthropological evidence to correlate the domestication of sugarcane to the growing Western industrial capitalism. Sugar’s versatility as “medicine, spice condiment, decorative material, sweetener, and a preservative” (78) allowed for its widespread production and consumption. The purpose of this paper is to examine the progressions of English economic trade and the English diet the consumption of sugar expanded from elite to popular classes.

Overproduction, free labor, and law of supply and demand in the Atlantic-Island experiment led to a decrease in the cost of sugar in Britain. Demand in England for sugar remained high from its first appearance as a rarity in the eleventh century through its widespread availability in the nineteenth. As western European countries began the production of sugarcanes, free labor from African slaves lowered the cost of sugar, but it remained a product for nobles. As
…show more content…
Sugar was introduced to England during a time when citizens were struggling to stabilize their diets. “In 1650, the people of England lived on a starch centered diet” (13) and dealt with issues of hunger. The drop in the price of sugar created a shift from a starch centered diet to sugar supplying “one-fifth of the calories” (6). The increase in consumption led to increasing sugar imports and to sugar becoming a staple to the working-class diet (151). As the popular classes began to consume sugar, they found more uses for the product and incorporated it more in their diet. The consumption of sugar led to the creation and consumption of cakes, breads, and drinking tea (120). Mintz also noted that sugar provided a biological satisfaction, which could be enjoyed by all the classes in England (13). The change in diet along with the predilection towards sweetness allowed for sugar to expand from the elite to the popular
Open Document