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2017 - ASEH Annual Conference Words: 283 words || 
1. Weeks, Michael. "Cultivating Sweetness: How Global Demand Shaped Agricultural Practice and Made an Industry" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2020-02-22 <>
Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: At the turn of the twentieth century, global demand for sugar surged. Heavy capital investment by colonial powers and wealthy investors transformed tropical forests into sugar plantations, while wealthy nations in temperate climes such as Germany, Austria, and the United States promoted conservative economic policies aimed at protecting and expanding domestic beet sugar production. While these patterns often wreaked ecological havoc and altered land use in the tropical world, global capitalism and consumer demand supported ecological continuity and local interdependencies in some regions. In Northern Colorado – the leading producer of domestic sugar from 1900-1930 - such was the case.

To exploit sugar demand and encourage domestic production, Congress passed protective tariffs and allotted funds for the USDA and agricultural colleges to conduct sugar beet research. In Northern Colorado, the tariff and the lucrative sugar market encouraged Great Western Sugar to invest in factories and infrastructure. The specifics of the refining process required the company to build refineries within the immediate vicinity of its growers. Farmers chose to grow beets since they were the region’s most lucrative crop and they could incorporate beets into existing crop rotations. Farmers also fed their livestock with sugar beet byproducts and fertilized their lands with the resulting manure. Research at Colorado Agricultural College and the USDA demonstrated the efficacy of existing soil management practices while supporting small changes in cultivation that increased yields. In short, the corporation, its growers, and state-sponsored researchers depended on one another – for beets, for feeds, for research, and to maintain soil health.
I conclude that global capitalism and consumption patterns facilitated a regional industry and encouraged a sustainable agroecology.

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