Essay about the response to Mintz chapter 3

Submitted By Jimiyd
Words: 802
Pages: 4

In the very first part of chapter one, Mintz introduces the significance of food in terms of group habits: “different groups eat different foods and in different ways; all feel strongly about what they do eat and don’t eat, and about the ways they do so. (p.3)” Thus, different groups of people whether it is the ethnicity or the different time period have their own food that defines themselves. For people (or specifically British) living in 18th century, sugar might be the one that differentiates themselves from others. The increasing consumption of sugar (and its eventual popularity) corresponds with the rising of Britain in the world politics and the beginning of capitalistic and industrialized society. Thus, the popularization of sugar symbolizes the coming of new political, economical, and social structure starting eighteenth century.
In chapter three of “sweetness and power”, Mintz explains how the sugar consumption became popular over the time. After it was first introduced in Europe around 1100 AD., sugar took more than seven hundred years to become common necessities of British.
It is interesting to note that the eventual popularization of sugar is coincidental with the gradual increasing power of British Empire. While sugar started to lose “its function as a marker of rank” throughout the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, Great Britain became more powerful, gaining colonies all over the world and winning wars against its European competitors. The rapidly increasing consumption of sugar was supported by newly established sugar plantations in West Indies and Jamaica. Since the supply became plentiful, the sugar became more commonplace and was eventually available to laborers to sweeten their bitter teas. Although all the wealth the empire had established wasn’t shared with the low class, commoners were able to enjoy meal including tea and sweet desserts. The rise of sugar in British society, thus, became possible by the rise of Great Britain to a super power.
The eighteenth century marked the popularization of sugar to working class; more people could enjoy the pleasure of drinking hot tea with sugar. However, it is also noteworthy that the eighteenth century was the start of industrialism and the modern capitalistic system. While tenant famers were forced to leave in England, bourgeois established factories and lured ex-farmers to the cities. In those cities, these farmers and their families again constituted the bottom of the society, largely exploited by the bourgeois. For the poor working class at that time, the access to sugar meant a lot. John Burnett, a student of the history of the British nutrition, explains: “The poor people found that they could enjoy a quite deceptive feeling of warmth after drinking hot tea, where as, in fact, a glass of cold beer would have given them far more real food. (p.117)” Moreover, the use of sugar supplemented the consumption of complex carbohydrates, particularly porridges and breads (p.118). Even sugar and sweetened food was emphasized for the saving of time that “the decline of bread baking at home was representative of the shift from a traditional cooking system…toward…convenience eating. (p.130)” Thus, sugar became commoner and cheaper to feed working class. If we remember that the industrialization was