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Humans have always been delighted by sweetness. In this three part series Lainy Malkani explores how sugar forged the modern world, from its role in the slave trade and the European colonisation of the Americas, to the consequences of our dependency on it today. For some countries, their past is built on it; for others, their futures depend on it. Across Britain, the USA and Thailand, Lainy digs into the past, present and future of sugar.
Beginning in London, Lainy samples sweet treats in Brick Lane with the food writer Ruby Tandoh, examines sugar cane in the tropical Palm House at Kew Gardens with botanist Dr Maria Vorontsova, and traces sugar’s journey from luxury to necessity centuries ago with the historian James Walvin. She visits the West India Docks on the River Thames where sugar – harvested by slaves in the Caribbean – arrived for refining in the early 1800s, and considers how sugar has shaped the city today.
(Photo: Spoonful of sugar added to coffee)