There’s no better place to see Florida’s complicated sugar story playing out than on the ground in the communities where residents engage in the day-to-day operations of the industry and are considering its future. An important—and often overshadowed—piece of that puzzle is the harvesting techniques that some cane families say are responsible for a public health crisis.
Residents of the Glades region near Lake Okeechobee are divided over health concerns of sugarcane harvesting. This ongoing tug-of-war is punctuated by a growing body of research that spells out the implications for people living near sugarcane fields. What do these efforts mean for South Florida and the future of its long-time sugar industry?
Sugarcane communities aren’t the only ones looking for industry innovations. Both scientists and businesses are thinking about sugarcane in new ways, considering what techniques can be amended or fine-tuned, and what materials can be repurposed and capitalized. But to what extent will the sugarcane industry adapt?