Grow Your Own Sugar
If you, like me, are keen on growing a few things that not only taste a hell of a lot better than shop bought produce but are pretty much free, then growing your own sugar might sound like an amazing prospect. And, well, it is an amazing prospect. I don’t have a huge amount of sugar in my diet but I like a sprinkle on my porridge, I like a muffin or twenty, and once I’ve cracked open a packet of biscuits there’s no hope that even one will survive.
I’m not talking about growing your own field or beet here, or attempting to fill your garden with sugar cane. A small and quite literally sweet garden herb is making a comeback and offers the chance for ZERO calories – Stevia.
If you have’t heard of this herb before I’m not surprised as, until this year, it wasn’t available in the European Union. There remains a lot of contention both politically and medically over Stevia resulting in a vast difference in availablity depending on the country you live in. Japan has used this herb as a natural sweetener since the 1970′s whilst Brazil has been using Stevioside extract as a food addiditve since 1986. However, many other countries including Switzerland, France and Australia banned all Stevia herbs and extracts until the current 21st century. For Stevia’s full history, the Wikipedia page has a good overall view, with arguments for and against the previous ban of this herb.
Turbulent past or not, Stevia is now available in the UK as a natural sweetener which can be added to tea or even dried, ground down and used in baking. Though the particular packet I was supplied with said that they were ‘easy-to-grow Seeds’ this is a slight fasle pretence as I’ve only have about 30p% germination rate. Plus, they’ve been slow growing to the point where this year there certainly hasn’t been any harvest. However, with the possibility of growing and harvesting my own, zero calorie sugar replacement at home, I’m going to persevere with this promising plant.