Planting out a small handful of Stevia plants last night has opened a can of worms! My intention was to see if by growing this wonder sweetner locally, (its free from calories and carbs), we could add another plank to our sustainable platform. Being up to three hundred times sweeter than cane sugar and with some luck with the weather (its not very frost tolerant) it would seem worth a try.
Of course once you start looking into these things the picture becomes more complex. Firstly is it legal to use the plants as a sweetner? An article in March 2014 in the Independent suggests not: "strict EU rules mean that it can't be grown for domestic human consumption in the UK – even though gardeners in the US can do so – and can only be cultivated as an ornamental herb". Oh dear are we going to have to live life on the edge again?
Reading a little more into the history of sugar production and the difference between using Cane Sugar made in the tropics versus that made from Sugar Beet in this country (with difficulty it seems) the picture becomes more murky still. Here is a piece by Germaine Greer - "Britain doesn't need sugar beet" which explains more.
However, much more interestingly we have now embarked on another horticultural and food processing adventure which is what keeps us fired up! We will keep you posted!