Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All Natural Buzz

As we begin our adventure to reduce sugar by 50% in our bakery, I have been studying the different alternative sweeteners on the market and am starting to become very intrigued by Stevia. It is starting to garner strength in the States as the FDA has recently approved several name brands for distribution here.

Stevia is a South American herb that has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years. The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. What strikes me most is that it has minimal processing and incorporates that all important buzz word, “natural.”

It seems very clear that organics has waned and possibly run its course entirely, but the “all natural” buzz has gained a foothold due to the fact that quality and price remain fair. In other words, natural products are being produced without hormones and antibiotics using minimal processing while the cost has remained fairly flat. Organics on the other hand have had smaller yields leading to higher unsustainable costs. Also, they are losing support in the industry.

Americans love the next “best thing.” It was “no MSG”, and then organics, than sustainability, and now the market is driving “all natural” as the catch phrase for the decade in my opinion. It also goes well with First Lady Michelle Obama’s four point plan to reduce obesity which is a good start, but a little thin on implementation. Anyway, these idealistic initiatives have to start somewhere and I believe this tends to wake up people out of complacency. Yes, we are getting less healthy and overweight! Let’s do something about it eh?


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