3 min read


The letter D

Donuts are sweet and donuts are tasty, donuts are Amercian and donuts have a curiously twisted history – like a lot of addictive things, they have a long shadow.

The USA produces and consumes a lot of sugar.

Sugar has deep roots in the origins of the slave trade. Its murky, heavily subsidized production in the hands of the world's Sugar Barons bears unfathomable costs on well-being and healthcare – the fried-carb sweetness of the donut belies a dark origin.

On average Americans consume about 126 grams - or ΒΌ pound, or Β½ a cup of sugar every day... that's 182 cups, or 90 lbs a year [1] much of that is consumed in the form of – you guessed it – donuts.

Long live the donut!

*Oly koeks were introduced to America via the Dutch – by ship – and the shipping triangle across the Atlantic looked something like this:

  • From Europe to Africa (guns and ammunition, copper, beads and baubles etc.)
  • From Africa to the Americas (slaves - 10-12 million)
  • From the Americas to Europe (sugar, molasses, potatoes, tobacco, gold etc.)

Long live the donut!

Sugar Production

Worldwide sugar production is about 180 million metric tons per year. That's a lot. Much of the production is heavily subsidized and ΒΎ of the production is sold outside of the open trade market, at well below the cost of its production. [2]

  • One metric ton is 1000 Kg.
  • An African elephant weighs about 5,500 Kg. – or 5.5 metric tons
  • So on the back of the envelope – x=(ton\over {x} \{elephant=1}^...
  • That works out to about 32 million or so elephants (with some fudge.)
  • There are currently only around 450,000 African elephants worldwide. [3]
  • That's a lot of sugar and not a lot of elephants.

Sugar History

September 25 – 30, is Truth and Reconciliation Week here in Canada, which produces (refines and grows) about 1.4 million metric tons of sugar per year – and consumes only marginally less than our southern neighbours, at 88 pounds of sugar per person per year [4]

For a deep dive into sugar's dark roots and its murky present here is a NY Times article from 2019 – part of the NYT 1619 Project.

NY Times article

[1] Sugar Consumption by Country – World Population Review
[2] Sugar Industry – Wikipedia
[3] Elephant Populations – Our World in Data
[4] How much Sugar? – Macleans Magazine

As always thanks for reading and indulging, and if you scrolled this far

Sweet dreams!

I dream of Krispy Kreme ( πŸ‘οΈ )

Dear Reader...

With some loving help, I've been making changes to the site, and I'm finding my way through the labyrinth of setting up a store for prints and cards.

I've added an A–Z section for the ongoing Abecedarium, and a Gallery section (beta) with print options for the drawings. In the newsletter and blog posts, the little eye icon ( πŸ‘οΈ ) in the captions, links to printable drawings. The Store will be coming soon, and prices are placeholders, I'd like to strike that balance to make it all work.

It's an open book and it's a work in progress...
Welcome any thoughts on what works and doesn't!