It seems so simple and it once was…Stevia Plant is a wholefood - a pretty herb grown in the garden ideal to nibble when in need of a sweet fix, or to immerse in a tea infusion. That is not however, how the bulk of the population will access and consume Stevia because if you’re like most people, you are probably not self-sufficient in the food department. (I know – the raised garden bed is on the to-do list!)
If you choose to use Stevia, you’re probably going to purchase it from the shop and will be buying a jar of a highly refined substance called Rebaudioside A extracted through an intense number of chemical processes. This is almost always accompanied by other synthetic additives.
So the questions are why don’t we see Stevia more widely used in sweet snacks and foods pitched for children, and why was it once banned by the FDA in the US?
In an article from December 2012, Sarah Berry from the Sydney Morning Herald Life and Style refers to comments by Dr Alan Barclay of Diabetes Australia. He says that “Stevia may not be quite as natural as the marketing would have us believe”.
Stevia in its refined form was banned by the FDA in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement. In 2008 it approved Rebaudioside A as a food additive. There has been controversy associated with this product in relation to studies linking it to health issues explored in an article Is Stevia Bad For You?
As consumers become more aware of the potential negative effects on their health from the over-consumption of sugar, it is inevitable that the search for alternatives will continue. At Gingerbread Folk, we believe sugar is a treat and should be consumed sensibly, with awareness, and in moderation.