Black Snow: To harvest America’s cane sugar, billion-dollar companies set fire to fields, a money-saving practice that’s being banned by other countries
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- The Smoke Comes Every Year. Sugar Companies Say the Air Is Safe.
- Jul 8 2021
- Word count
- 6981 words
I didn't realize they burned cane in Florida. I grew up with this every year in the Gulf South. I had a friend from Idaho that thought it was crazy to see the fields on fire, because he assumed they were wildfires. But you know they're burning cane when the 3-4 inch black wisps of soot start to fall miles away from the fields. They get everywhere and are hard to sweep up because they just disintegrate. But sometimes you kind of overlook the degradation in air quality due to the smoke because the air quality can be so bad due to petrochem plants in some areas anyway. Cane smoke definitely discolors the sky, and sometimes wafts across the interstate, but when the plants are burning flares all the time, or the smell of burnt popcorn gets into your car as you pass a plant (with the windows up and air set to recycle), how do you even start to pinpoint where your asthma is coming from? Not even to mention the pollen haha.
The source is obvious for this community, which is great for the fight against these practices. But sometimes it's just a way of life, since cane farming is a necessary evil to a lot of folks (myself included). And big farming operations don't like to change, especially if it's cheaper to just burn the fields.