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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

stevia, or the FDA is ridiculous

i have a deep love/hate relationship with the internet. it's so hard to find blogs or websites you can trust. i've been searching for what are good replacements for sugar that aren't artificial. i don't want diabetes but i also don't want cancer. how do you avoid both of these things without abandoning sweetening things altogether?

i had NO IDEA that there was such a controversy surrounding stevia (pictured right). apparently the FDA has not approved it completely as "safe." it's allowed to be sold as a supplement, but you're not supposed to put it in food (i.e. food manufacturers aren't allowed to put it in stuff). the conspiracy theory is that their ban is purely due to powerful people in washington protecting sugar and other artificial sweetener companies. according to The Food Renegade (my main source for this post), the FDA began to sing a new tune about stevia once coca-cola and pepsi came out with their own versions of stevia (truvia and purevia). hmm...that sounds really fishy to me. we go from unsafe to safe as soon as huge corporations can make money off of it. south americans have been using this super sweet yet virtually calorie-free sweetener for literally centuries and plenty of other countries have had it approved, so there's a really good chance the FDA has ulterior motives for banning it until coca-cola came up with their version. according to the original studies that the FDA used to ban stevia have now been deemed unreliable. more recent and reliable studies have concluded that the negative effects are either inconclusive, insignificant or nonexistent. interesting. some research even points to it having great health benefits, such as curbing cravings, lowering blood pressure, and assisting with insulin production. and can we be real? surely it's safer than the pink stuff that definitely gives hamsters cancer. why has that not been banned yet?

so i find that the FDA is ridiculous and really annoying. and yet...can i really trust anything i just read on the internet? how are we REALLY supposed to know what's true and what's not? there seems to be a lot of evidence pointing to the ban being politically based and the studies about stevia in the last few years being reliable. but what information am i missing, if any? oh internet. oh america. i think i am sticking with the conviction that surely it's better than fake stuff. right?

i have decided to start experimenting more with stevia, especially for baking, and i plan to give up truvia; first out of principal because politics make me mad, second out of uncertainty surrounding the mysterious way they chemically get stevia to be in that granulated form, and third out of frugality, considering i can buy it in a liquid form or even grow it myself, which should save money as well as be the healthier, natural approach. i will share discoveries and mistakes i make along the way!

if this intrigues you, here are some sites to consider: on the FDA controversy
The Food Renegade on Truvia
The Food Renegade's list of preferred natural sweeteners
EZ Gro Garden on growing your own stevia

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  1. Hi Katie,

    I just started eliminating sugar from my diet and came to the same conclusions about stevia. Especially after watching Food, Inc, there is no doubt in my mind that the FDA's decision about stevia has more to do with money than safety. Isn't it just lovely how, since stevia is more expensive, those big companies use table sugar and maltodextrin (a sweetener usually made from corn) as a filler?

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! It makes me feel better that I'm not the only one coming to that conclusion. I've been wanting to watch Food, Inc, and yet I also don't know if I'm ready for all that the film may reveal to me. Haha.