distribution, or prices until the latter half of the 16th century, and only became dominant from about 1650.
Before 1600 Venice gave way to Amsterdam as the great entrepot for the sugar trade, as for the spice trade,
and for the same complicated reasons.
All this, as we shall see, was part of the movement of the epicenter
of world trade out of the Mediterranean and toward the Atlantic.
So this chapter is about the other end of the sugar story: how an unnecessary “food” became responsible
for the Africanization of the Caribbean.
It concerns only a very small part of the world, but one which, until
1800, was responsible for more than 80% of both sugar and the trade in slaves.
As a direct result, this small
region was simultaneously responsible for nearly half of all the seagoing effort, naval and civil, of the western
The story must be allowed to tell itself, but it would be worth asking
rst why people
came to eat re
ned sugar at all, except as some sort of curiosity, and why they became addicted to it.
What exactly is sugar, biochemically?
All edible plants contain, in varying proportions,
fat, starch, and sugar.
All vegetarian and omnivorous animals, including man, convert