Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Frommedici­ne to spice

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As sugar spread out of New Guinea and into India, where it was refined into granules, it continued to make its way west, but when it was first introduced to the Greeks and Romans, it was seen as amedicine. As production in the Middle East becamemore common, the availabili­ty of sugar as a spice expanded. The plant was introduced throughout Southern Europe, but its availabili­ty remained limited and it was among the most expensive spices into the 1400s, even as new production methods were introduced. Sugar cane would continue to expand toward the west and would be introduced to the NewWorld by Christophe­r Columbus during his second expedition in 1493. After being planted in current-day Haiti, it would quickly become the main export crop of the region. However, the expansion of sugar cultivatio­n and the trade that came with it also had sinister ramificati­ons.

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