I am all about the sweets. I’ve always enjoyed fructose, sucrose, pure extract of nerds candy. It all comprises a significant portion of my diet. Really, it’s the main reason I go to the gym…so I can eat more. Ok, seriously, high fructose corn syrup makes up such a large portion of the typical American diet that it sort of troubles me. We need sweeteners to be sure, but HFCS is not a great choice, apart from its affordability.
Anyhow, since I am interested in providing what I can of the things that we eat, I keep bees for honey. Bees have to be the absolute best insect in the world. What other creature make the garden produce more and also give me sweet liquid gold?! So, bees are great producers of fuel for my sweet tooth, but I hate to put all of my eggs in one basket. I decided to try my hand at growing stevia.
Stevia is a an herb in the Chrysanthemum family that grows most typically in South America, but is being grown elsewhere as its market increases. It has been used by indigenous folks to sweeten drinks for centuries. You see, stevia leaves are 10-15 times sweeter than table sugar. In its refined form, stevia powder is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar.
Although stevia is grown on large farms and is becoming more popular in its processed forms (look for Truvia in the grocery store), it is well within the reach of any gardener or plant lover to grow enough stevia to make significant sweetener for one’s own table. Last year, I bought two small, pitiful stevia plants from a mail order place. I immediately transplanted them into typical house plant pots and set them in a sunny spot on top of an array of 6 computer servers in my office. The plants remain warm around the clock upon the computers and get plenty of sun and water.
My plants have grown incredibly fast and have produced long winding vines. The runners trickle down from my computers clear to the floor. Folks stop by my office and snatch leaves from the plants to chew on.
So, stevia makes a great sweetener. It’s natural and clean and can be used in an unprocessed form. For diabetics, the benefits are even greater. Stevia does not elevate blood sugar levels and provides no calories.
If you are interested in providing an alternative sweetener for your family, it’s worth your time to consider growing stevia at your place. So what do you think? Have you heard of stevia or truvia before? Have you tried either? Does the role of HCFS in our food make any difference to you?
Warren can also be found at My Home Among the Hills writing about the adventures of life in WV.