Our morning breakfast, lunch, afternoon treat, and even family dinners all share a commonality further than hunger and eating. It is at the peak of the food pyramid where we are warned to consume sparing amounts for optimal health. Of course you do not envision people eating spoonful’s of sugar as Mary Poppins references in order to choke down a healthful, flu-cutting remedy.
However, sugar is sprinkled into almost every snack and meal we ingest, especially in today’s overly processed nation of food consumers. The impact of its highly elevated use has affected not only our waistlines, but the countries and laborers behind its mass global production.
Various political agendas surround the face of the sugar industry. The current global economy is involved in the commodity production of agricultural products. More specifically, Western nations, such as the United States, have created a system of capitalist production that promotes social inequality. Sugar, or sugar cane, is a valuable resource that has been developed into a global commodity for processed and refined sugars and confectionary pleasures of the industrialized world.
Similar to corn production, sugar has been increasingly replacing vital agricultural resources. Natives in non-industrialized countries have been forced to succumb to industrialized sugar corporations, such as Domino. The influence of corporate industries is due to the impendence of American Imperialism. Similar to the control of Britain, the United States has produced a strong hold over the global economy, especially non-industrial, Third World countries.
The democratic system of free enterprise, or free trade, and the militarization of the industrialized world has been an essential component in creating the current system of global agriculture and trade. Due to the increased production of sugar cane, Third World countries have relied heavily not only upon their exports, but also upon imports of staple foods.
During American Imperialism, large populations of poor natives have lost their most valuable resource, land. Without their native lands, natives are unable to adequately produce food for consumption. Instead, natives have received allocations of small land distributions that had once been their own from the large transnational corporations. In order to survive and provide for their families, natives have surrendered the little land they have received for industrial agricultural production of items such as sugar cane, coffee, cotton, and tea. As a result, natives suffer socially and economically through the unequal distribution of valuable resources.
The capitalist system has created a world in which individuals grow crops that they are unable to profit or subsist on. Instead, the capitalist elite have subsisted upon poor working laborers who are continually fighting for freedom. The sugar industry is a single example of the elite capitalist profiting and manipulating valuable resources of land and labor from the poor laborers.
Ten Things Every Consumer Should Know
1. The sugar industry is a part of an intricate web of global networks.
2. It has created economic stratification, not only between industrial and non-industrial countries, but also between producers.
3. Non-industrial countries have been manipulated into participating in the global, capitalist market.
4. Non-industrial participants of the global market are continually coerced into capitalist production and rendered into financial dependency.
5. Many native producers have had their land stolen from them through our free enterprise system.
6. Instead of producing staple food supplies for their families, natives are forced to dedicate their land to farms of sugar monocropping.
7. American Imperialism has presented a façade of democratic freedom, while maintaining a stronghold of power and control.
8. The World Bank supports the ideological interests of capitalist profit… the loan system has created an ideal revenue pool for transnational corporations and the World Bank.
9. Free trade or the free enterprise system has created mass populations of dependent individuals.
10. The current system of social inequality in the sugar industry can be changed through an educated population of (Western) consumers.
Five Things You Can Do
1. Explore alternatives for your sugar consumption. (Wholesome Sweeteners Products)
2. Purchase items that commit to fair treatment for its producers and consumers. (Global Exchange)
3. Learn more about the individuals behind each purchase you make.
4. Begin to promote change within your local community through activism/education for the just treatment of workers/producers of the global economy.
5. Do not be silent. Educate those around you with the wealth of information that is available to us about the social inequality behind American Imperialism.
How You Can Learn More
Research the information that is presented to you through media or other informative sources.
Expand your horizons and seek information from a broad array of sources.
Read Imperial Nature by Michael Goldman (2005).
Read American Imperialism by Leland H. Jenks (1970).
It is easy to overlook these complexities when it is in the background of a simplistic product such as sugar. As global consumers, we must be aware of our consumption practices. This is essential not only for our immediate individual health, but for the wellbeing of our global producers and labors.
Goldman, M. (2005). Imperial Nature. (pp vii-xix). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Jenks, L. (1970). Dollar Diplomacy and The Preventative Policy. In American Imperialism (pp. 104-127). New York: Arno Press and The New York Times.
Smith, J. “Against the Grain.” The Ecologist. November 2003, Vol. 33 (9): 48-49.
Photos via: Google
The personal views expressed in this post are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minnesota Connected or its sponsors.