I Got Caned In Brazil

So, maybe I did drink a few cocktails while I was in Brazil.

But who could resist? Ice, lime, sugar and cachaça! What a delicious combo. 

Sounds good but ‘what’s cachaça?’ I hear you cry! Well, I’m glad you asked.

It’s a liquor made from sugar cane. Pretty good pun in the title there, huh? The sugar cane is squeezed, fermented, distilled and barrelled. The final product is one of Brazil’s most popular spirits, which in turn makes delicious cocktails. Caipirinha anyone?

Sugar cane is a big deal, a real game-changer for some communities in Brazil.

Brazil is blessed with land, and by that I mean it is MASSIVE. Rural communities are harnessing the precious resource of land by creating farming cooperatives; they grow and sell produce as a group. In this communal mind-set they create a livelihood for everyone in their community. These people love their land and love to yield its bounty. It is a symbol of their sustainability and autonomy and security.

I didn’t realise just how painfully ignorant I was when I first stepped off the minibus into that chokingly hot night in rural Brazil. Up until then, I had no idea where sugar even came from. So, for my fellow uninitiated, here’s how sugar works, at least in Brazil:

The sugar cane (big sticks) gets crushed in a big machine and its sugary liquid drips out.

Then someone, like this woman, boils it up so all of the impurities can be removed.

The remaining liquid can then be processed into a range of products: straight-up sugar grains, solid sugar blocks of deliciousness, thick caramel (aka dolce de lette) or fermented and distilled - where it becomes everyone’s favourite (well mine) liquor, cachaça.

By working as a production cooperative, all of the families in the community can work the land and sell into a wider cooperative. This provides a livelihood for a whole community and delicious cocktails for me.

Win, win as I see it.