Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Health: The Sugarcane Plantations of the Philippines and Muscovado

I take Muscovado daily, primarily for the health benefits. It has a lot of magnesium, potassium, calcium, chromium, iron, zinc, and other minerals. It also has Vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, plus cholorphyll, antioxidants, soluble fiber and other healthy compounds.

 My friend, Bingbing Garrovillo Ponce de Leon, has been supplying me with Muscovado from Negros Island, Philippines.

The Island of Negros, in Central Philippines, has traditionally grown sugarcane on vast haciendas. I recall in the 1960s, when the world price of sugar was high, the kids from Negros whose families owned sugar plantations, used to fly over to my island of Cebu for the weekend. Young men owned Cadillacs and other luxury items; the sugar made them very wealthy.

When Ferdinand Marcos was in power, he and his cronies controlled the sugar, coconut and other industries, causing quite a scandal, one that contributed to Marcos's downfall.

This article from the recalls that Marcos era:
"In the hospital wards on the central Philippines island of Negros, a land green with sugarcane, 150,000 children suffer from second-and third- degree malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization, noting the malnutrition deaths have doubled in the last two years..."

In 1985, the price of sugar plummeted and many workers lost their jobs and hacienderos lost their money. Some plantation owners decided to diversify instead of relying on a single crop, but because it takes time to develop new business, those were lean times in Negros Island.

In fact, the fortune of the sugarcane workers and hacienderos is always influx; for instance the availability of sugar from Brazil, affects them directly because more sugar in the world drives sugar prices down.

I have seen the sugar fields of Negros, and I have seen how hard the work is involved in planting, harvesting, and processing the sugarcane to extract sugar. I have respect for sugar.

 The process of converting sugarcane to sugar is basically this: the sugarcane juice is extracted and boiled until the molasses crystals are left behind. That is now Muscovado. Further processing of that results in refined sugar; the brown sugar we buy in bags is actually refined sugar with molasses put back into it. Muscovado is different from regular brown sugar.

One can use Muscovado as a sweetener; it has a strong molasses taste. I like it as rocks and suck on it like candy - so delicious!

One can get Muscovado from health food stores; it will cost more than refined sugar, but Muscovado is so much better for you.

Read also:
Afta and the Sugar Industry
What's the Difference Between Brown Sugars?
Muscovado Sugar is packed with "sweet" nutrition
How to Make Gugo or Gogo Shampoo
How to Make Tea from Hibiscus or Gumamela Flowers

photos of the Muscovado are mine; the other photos are courtesy of Wikepedia

Tags: health, nutrition, sugar, muscavado, raw sugar, brown sugar, magnesium, potassium, sugarcane, hacienda, Philippines, Negros island, Ferdinand Marcos

This is all for now,

No comments: