Daily Burns by Big Sugar in South Florida

Slash and burn is a way of life in the sugarcane fields of Palm Beach County – ©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved

Everybody in Miami knows that Big Sugar runs the world, and that tons of refined white crystal exports are more important to the economy and diet of millions than even Wonder Bread.

Throughout the USA, sugar mostly comes from beets. But a great statistical percentage of the rest comes from sugar cane grown, refined, processed, packed, and shipped from right here in the Miami Metropolitan Area.

All you have to do is slide up that old U.S. Highway 27 to the south edge of Lake Okeechobee and the historic burghs of the greater “Muck City” area; Belle Glade, South Bay, Pahokee; and even Indian Town to a lesser extent.

That’s where vast fields of sugar cane and processing plants dominate the landscape, and all the action happens.

A big part of that action are the daily burns that enrich the soil and speed the harvesting process. And send 12 – 16 mile plumes of toxic ash and smoke into the air, land, water, and homes of those who live there.

These are screenshots from a government operated prescribed-fire tracking website that shows just how pervasive the smoke and ash are. You can check out it for yourself at http://fireinfo.fdacs.gov/fmis…

The burns happen pretty much every day from Oct-May unless it rains and it’s too wet or someone important is in town.

And guess what, it affects the whole Dade County, Broward, and the Keys too.

Whatever goes up, must come down, and the ash that enters Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and the aquifer, all roll down the gentle grade from Palm to Dade on the “river of grass” that enters the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Ash is the perfect food for bacteria and algae. They gorge on it until their presence is a mighty force that blocks out the sun, maybe killing seagrass meadows, choking out oxygen, possibly causing fish kills, discolored water, and hitting self-destruct on the game of life.

Big Sugar contributes lots of money to all political parties, so it’s an all party issue that affects the rich, the poor, those stuck in the middle; the pioneers, the new arrivals; citizens, immigrants, and tourists alike.

By Jacob Katel

Diving into news about water.