The family farm we visited has been producing sugar cane for over 200 years. I was so very grateful that my children got to hike around and learn about the whole process, understanding the origin of the sweetness they so often crave.
Large fields of sugar cane are still cut by hand and loaded onto horses who carry to get processed.
Lydia found a giant stalk.
Abby learned how to use a machete to harvest the cane.
Andy was in farm-heaven, with open ears and eyes and so very happy to use his new machete to contribute. He probably would have worked all night if he could have.
Walking through a freshly-cut field.
When you want to plant a new crop, you just use a piece of stalk like this one.
This is the panela processing place, where they squeeze the cane juice out of the plants.
Even sucking on the stalk is sweet....probably the raw-est form of sugar my kids will ever taste.
The pulp is then sold and used to make recycled paper.
Tasting the sweet, fresh, warm panela before it gets hard.
After molded into blocks, it is shipped all over the country. The majority of families in Colombia drink panela every day.
Just weeks after we got to witness this process, the United States signed Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. We wondered how this might change things for this small operation. We hope they can continue to grow, process, and sell this yummy sweetness for many years to come.