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“Pure, white and lethal – this is how John Udkin called in his book the most widely spread narcotic. Until few centuries ago mankind was doing it just fine without refined sugar, and honey, maple syrup and other rare and expensive goodies were rather a medicine than anything else. It can be underlined that today sugar is used for preserving fruits, but back then they were just dried; the compote (one very hard and expensive way to preserve fruits) is considered better than the dried fruits, only because it is sweeter than them. Apparently most of the people use sugar not to feed themselves; they do it simply because it makes them feel the sweet sensation of sweetness.
We should also mention that many of the animals, from the caterpillar to the wild bear, enjoy eating sweet. The cows would eat even their own excrements, if they were sprinkled with sugar. In nature very sweet things are something very rare and are most often used as bait. They are contained in fruits, which sweet taste attracts the animals, which pay for the pleasure by distributing the seeds of the plant through their excrements.
Sugar is very widely spread in nature, but it can be found very rarely in a really high concentration. The honey and the juices of the different plants, which sweeter than the usual food, have been observed by man for very long time now. Today sugar is most commonly acquired from sugar-cane (Saccharum officinarum), which native land is maybe the delta of the river Gang. The origin of the word “sugar” is Indian. The first data on sugar reached Europe by the time of Alexander the Great; the Macedonian admiral Nearch noticed that, in India grows a plant, from which honey can be received without the use of bees. Gradually the sugar-cane was spread in China and in the Near East, but sugar got more and more expensive, because the whole process of extraction was very hard to do.