While enjoying your Barbados villa holiday and exploring the island you can’t fail to notice the arable land. The main crops grown in Barbados are sugarcane, vegetables and cotton. The vegetables commonly grown include sweet potatoes, eddoes and yams. These vegetables are usually sold locally by street vendors and not grown for export. Barbados cotton fields can be seen but are scarce in comparison to sugar and vegetables. You’ll see many sugarcane fields. Over 37% of the land in Barbados is arable land and sugarcane is the main crop. Sugarcane is the second largest industry in Barbados, with millions of dollars worth being exported each year.
Barbados sugar is more commonly known as Muscovado sugar. This sugar is a dark brown sugar that is very moist with a uniquely strong molasses taste. It has a coarse grain and sticky crystals. Because our sugar is unrefined it has a strong molasses taste, produced from the naturally sweet juice of the sugar cane. Barbados sugar is reputed for its high mineral and vitamin content; it is far more nutritious than refined white sugar. A pack of Barbados sugar makes a great gift to take home from your Barbados villa holiday, a little packet of sunshine and a taste of Barbados.
However, this delicious foodstuff has a troubled and emotive history. Dutchman Pieter Blower brought sugar cane to Barbados from Brazil and the crop proved to be the island’s most lucrative cash crop (replacing tobacco). During the 1600s the Barbados sugar export industry grew and in 1640 massive deforestation took place to make room for a many huge sugar plantations. These sugar plantations were owned by wealthy landowners known as the “plantocracy”. By the early 1800s African slavery in Barbados had reached an all time high with almost 400,000 slaves. These slaves worked the plantations growing sugarcane, grinding, extracting the juice and processing, until it was ready to be shipped as raw sugar to Britain.
Once there were several hundred sugar plantations on the island. Today there are just a few. Those no longer producing sugar often come up for sale, and the plantation houses become private residences. The Portvale Sugar Factory is a modern-day sugar factory that is located at Blowers in the parish of St. James. Sugarcane juice is processed here and transformed into sugar for both local and export purposes. The Portvale Sugar Factory is in full operation during the January to May crop season in Barbados. This is a great time of year to incorporate a trip into your Barbados villa holiday.
If you get the chance, try ‘chewing cane’ or a glass of ‘cane juice’. Sugarcane juice is a very healthy product, loaded with a range of essential nutrients. Sugarcane contains potassium, riboflavin, magnesium and calcium. Cane juice is a natural high-energy drink, which makes it a healthy alternative to drinks with refined sugar. There are many health and nutritional benefits to be gained from consuming raw sugarcane, or sugarcane juice.
Next time you put a spoonful of our delicious, sweet, “sunshine crystals” into your coffee, take a moment to consider the history and heritage that has brought it to you.
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