Thursday, July 10, 2008

The big boys "discover" stevia. Sigh....

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D91Q92600.htm
Ok.. this is just annoying. Infuriating.
In the early 90's, just as Nutrasweet gumballs were hitting mailboxes all over the United States, cargo ships loaded with Stevia were being banned from unloading in the united states. It seemed a very strange coincidence, particularly when a few years later the ban was lifted with no explanation ever given for the ban - or for the lifting of the ban. In fact, all during the ban, the US was encouraging South American countries to grow stevia as a cash crop in place of marijuana. We just wouldn't be buying any, thank you very much.

The only thing was, when the ban was lifted, stevia was not approved as a food additive. Stevia, under the rules of the FDA, could have gotten Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status as an existing product with a history of human consumption. Without FDA approval or GRAS status, stevia must be marketed under the less-regulated category of "dietary supplement". This is an import alert, updated just this year... Stevia is still considered to be suspect, and can be turned away from port or confiscated.
http://www.fda.gov/ora/fiars/ora_import_ia4506.html

So now, after companies like:
www.stevita.com
www.sweetleaf.com
www.bodyecology.com
www.zevia.com
have worked long and hard to make stevia available to the public, Goliath (in the guise of Coca-Cola and Cargill) comes along and "discovers" the benefits of this "new" sweetener. Where will this leave the family owned businesses that depend on stevia? In the dust.
Somehow the big boys found a way to get around the problems that plague the small businesses.
Oh sure, the new sweetener - Truvia - is about as far from stevia in its natural state as can be imagined. These colossal corporations have isolated the sweet component and do away with all that makes the sweetener natural. They will, of course, market it as natural.

I've often felt very sorry for the people who spent the last several decades making organic, whole, pure foods available to the paltry few who were searching for them. We've had a couple of local families who've been in business for at least 40 years each, eeking out a living, called to provide "health foods". Then, just when things started to go their way and living got easier, WHOOSH!!! the rug is pulled out from under them as the big boys come and take their business. I know it's the way of business, but it makes me sick.

1 comment:

patti flynn said...

this makes me crazy. :(

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