Hawaii Sugar Story Not So Sweet

C and H pure cane sugar
From Hawaii
Growin’ in the sun!
Island sugar, growing pure, fresh and clean
C and H pure cane sugar is the one!

No doubt I’m dating myself, but who remembers that jingle from the 70s and 80s? Many people, myself included, think sugar and pineapple when they hear the word Hawaii. But guess what? The last sugar mill in Hawaii had its final harvest three years ago. The last pineapple cannery closed back in 2007.

I had no idea. When we arrived in Maui, we saw acres and acres of overgrown and unharvested sugar fields, along with several abandoned mills. I wondered what was going on. I found that these industries were no longer a part of island life and it was all due to a common storyline: “High labor and land costs resulted in lost market share to foreign growers and processors.” So sad.

The island is dotted with charming towns that were built around the plantation industry. Their buildings, however, now house businesseses catering to the state’s current and now lone economic engine — tourism.

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