Monday, February 6, 2012

Stevia goldmine? NPR features stevia

National Public Radio put together an interesting story about the efforts of S&W seeds to grow stevia on a large scale in California. Most stevia is currently harvested by hand from small plots in Asia and South America. They interviewed Clint Shock, one of the researchers who first collected stevia plants from the wild decades ago. NPR also interviewed a "psychologist of taste" about the unique taste profile of stevia and efforts to improve it's taste. People become accustomed to a particular type of sweetness and tend to react negatively when it's not what they expected. In my family, we've grown used to the taste of green and white stevia powder over time. Now it seems normal to us, at least in some recipes. And we have always preferred stevia over sugar for herbal tea. We think a tea made by steeping stevia leaves in hot water actually has a superior taste compared to sweetening with sugar. That goes for straight stevia tea or using stevia leaves mixed with other herbs such as mint.
California's Stevia Growers Bet On Fast Track To Sweetener Success : The Salt : NPR:

It's stevia time! At least that's what food industry newsletters are saying. Regulatory barriers that once blocked many uses of this all-natural sweetener have fallen. The European Union approved the use of stevia in food late last year. In the U.S., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave stevia a green light in 2008. Sales are soaring.