Organic Sweeteners

Organic sweeteners have white sugar beat.

December 21, 2012

One hundred forty-five million tons of white sugar is produced worldwide every year—we can’t get enough of the stuff. But our collective sweet tooth is causing sugar to be produced in places where it doesn’t naturally belong, leading to widespread erosion, pollution, and biodiversity loss. As with humans, white sugar is best for the planet in moderation. That’s why it’s important to diversify sources of sugar, and store shelves are packed with alternatives. The options are so varied that choosing can be confusing, but we’re here to be your guide. We’ve selected our favorite organic sweeteners, including vegan, fair-trade, gluten-free, and non-GMO options. Make this spring’s treats a little sweeter by making them organically.

  1. Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
On farmer cooperatives in Java, nectar from the coconut palm tree flower is boiled down to create palm sugar. It tastes similar to brown sugar, for which it is a perfect substitute in recipes. It can also be used in place of white sugar. Use in baking, breakfast treats, and drinks. Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO. $6 from Wholesome Sweeteners
  2. Organic Raw Blue Agave
Agave can be a savior for sugar addicts, because it is 25 percent sweeter than white sugar, so less is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. This raw agave is processed at a low temperature, producing a stronger flavor. It is also low on the glycemic index, so it’s less likely to cause a sugar crash. Use in coffee, desserts, and sauces. Fair trade, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free. $12 from Wholesome Sweeteners
  3. BetterStevia Organic Liquid Extract
No-calorie stevia sweeteners are very popular, and many are not organic. Extracted from the stevia herb, these little drops are the sweetener in liquid form. One to four drops will sweeten just like sugar, without the calories. Use in coffee, tea, or yogurt. Vegan, gluten-free. $11 from NOW Foods
  4. Organic Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup
Those with a more sensitive sweet tooth will enjoy brown rice syrup. It’s similar to maple and corn syrup but half as sweet, so it can flavor dishes without overwhelming them with sugar. Use in baking or coffee, or over pancakes. Non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan. $5 from Lundberg Family Farms
  5. Organic Vanilla Sugar
There’s no artificial flavoring here; this blend is made only from organic fair-trade sugar and organic vanilla beans. The warm smell and flavor make it more than just sugar, and will add a gourmet touch to any recipe. Use in baking, coffee, and desserts. Fair trade. $7 from Simply Organic