New sugar varieties as sweet as they come

According to Canegrowers, Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of raw sugar, with exports currently worth about $AUD2 billion per year. Depending on seasonal production variability, Australia normally ranks as the second or third largest, after Brazil, and sells 80 per cent of all cane sugar grown here mainly to East Asia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, the USA and New Zealand.

The remaining 20 per cent of the raw sugar produced in Australia for domestic consumption is refined locally and processed into white sugar, liquid sugar products and other specialty products such as golden syrup, treacle, coffee sugar, cubed sugar and rum. 

However there are other sugar varieties from Australia as well as from other parts of the world that can be used for a number of new dishes and uses.
Katherine Wall, Brand Manager for Sugar Australia said: “From the heartland of Mexico to the quaint courtyards of regional France, ingredients we once travelled the globe to find are now available much closer to home.”
“Hand sourced from some of the most beautiful locations on earth, Sugars of the World is an exotic collection of traditionally farmed sugars, each with their own special characteristics, and most being exclusive to this range. Some are unrefined, and all of them are unique.”
“From the deep richness of Colombian Panela, to the delicate caramel notes of Sri Lankan Rapadura, Sugars of the World makes it easy to add an international twist to traditional recipes or your favourite cup of tea or coffee, and to explore the diversity of sweetness from around the world.”
Some of these new sugars include:
Indonesian Coconut Blossom Sugar
Indonesian Coconut Blossom Sugar is unrefined, organically grown and sustainably farmed on the island of Java, Indonesia. Harvested with traditional methods, it retains the nutrients naturally found in the nectar of the coconut blossom. A good source of calcium and iron, Indonesian Coconut Blossom Sugar also has a GI value up to 10 points lower than raw sugar. With a unique depth of flavour and subtle caramel and butterscotch notes, Indonesian Coconut Blossom Sugar can also substitute for Jaggery or Gula Melaka. 

Perfect for:
•    Porridge
•    Baked goods
•    Tea, coffee and cold drinks

Sri Lankan Rapadura Sugar
Sri Lankan Rapadura Sugar is an unrefined sugar from the Uva province in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan farmers simply harvest the cane and evaporate the water from the juice until it crystallises, meaning the sugar is truly unrefined. The molasses content in the cane juice gives this sugar its golden colour and delicate caramel flavour and means more of the natural nutrients remain. 

Perfect for:
•    Traditional sweets like Sago Pudding and Urunda
•    Recipes that call for Jaggery or Gula Melaka
•    White and Brown sugar substitute

Mexican Agave Sugar
Mexican Agave Sugar is created by drying the extracted juice of the agave plant that thrives in the warm deserts of Mexico. With an intense sweetness that is clean and lively, Mexican Agave Sugar dissolves easily and blends well with other ingredients. 

Perfect for:
•    Recipes calling for Caster or Icing sugar
•    Baking, stirring in and sprinkling
•    Mexican sweets like churros, empanadas, cajeta or flan de queso

French Caster Sugar
To create delicate macaroons, exquisite petits fours, and luscious éclairs, French pastry chefs use finely sieved pure French Caster Sugar, or ‘Sucre Semoule Tamisé.’ Unlike sugar grown in the southern hemisphere, French Caster Sugar is purified from the juice of the sugar beet, grown in the cool and temperate climate of eastern France. French Caster Sugar has a well-developed sweetness, with a light yet hedonistic note on the palate. 

Perfect for:

•    French pastries
•    Recipes requiring a sugar to blend, melt, fold or whip easily

Colombian Panela Sugar
With deep rum-like notes and an earthy finish, Colombian Panela Sugar brings a subtle but complex sweetness to any recipe. Farmers in Villeta, Cundinamarca province, harvest sugar cane and boil the juice to help it crystallise, as they have for centuries. Made by hand, Colombian Panela retains more of the natural molasses content of sugar cane juice, and therefore more of the natural trace minerals and other nutrients. 

Perfect for:
•    Recipes that call for Raw or Brown Sugar
•    Tea and coffee
•    Cereal
•    Yoghurt

Australian Unrefined Sugar
Australian Unrefined Sugar is milled in Queensland, at the source where the sugar cane is grown. The balance of trace minerals, nutrients and flavours found naturally in sugar cane and molasses are retained. Subtle differences across crystal size and colour are a result of the 

Perfect for:

•    Recipes that call for White or Raw sugar
•    Tea and coffee
•    Everyday baking and cooking 

sugar not being processed through a refinery, so every bag of Australian Unrefined sugar is uniquely one of a kind. Dusky gold in colour, with a subtle syrup note and rounded flavour, Australian Unrefined sugar has an earthy character and natural goodness.

Australian Muscovado Sugar
Australian Muscovado retains the dark colour and heady aroma from its natural molasses content, carrying robust notes of bittersweet toffee and treacle. It adds a luscious depth to baked goods, with its intensely decadent flavour and moist texture. With a fine crystal similar to caster sugar, Australian Muscovado is made from cane sugar grown and milled in Queensland, Australia. 

Perfect for:
•    Recipes that call for Brown or Dark Brown sugar
•    Porridge
•    Glazes and marinades

Big Soda’s tactics to confuse science and protect their profits

The latest dubious tactic of global soft-drink giant Coca-Cola has now been revealed for what it is – a move by an industry with a threatened financial future to confuse science, policy and the public, in order to buy time, and protect profits.

On paper it seemed harmless enough; the recent founding of the Global Energy Balance Network may have even sounded like a good thing. A group of scientists wanting to bring more attention to the global and serious challenge of obesity, and encourage policy makers to recognise the importance of exercise in its mitigation. On further reading though, it becomes increasingly apparent that their focus is more about shifting our attention away from what we eat – probably the most important point for intervention in tackling overweightedness globally. Talking little about the ‘calories in’ and focusing only on ‘calories out’, a leading Canadian obesity physician was drawn to ask the question: “what is this network really about?”

As it turns out, the network is funded indirectly by Coca-Cola. Their website is registered and administrated by Coca-Cola. Many of their scientists are linked to Coca-Cola funding, or have been funded directly by them.

This is just the latest round of sad but dangerous moves by the sugar drink giant to confuse consumers, stall policy and halt public health. The food and beverage industry have a long history of funding puppet NGOs, paying leading thinkers to sit on their ‘advisory boards’ and even commissioning research to confuse the scientific landscape. In fact, a paper published in PLOS Medicine in 2013 found that studies funded by the sweetened beverage industry were 5x more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain, than studies whose authors reported no such conflicts. From the company that has brought us summer, printed our names on their bottles, even launched a ‘life’ labelled package in an ironic green wrapping – this latest “network” is unlikely to be a surprise to many of us, but presents a challenge for us all.

With this in mind, what are the facts that they’re working so hard to distract us from?

1. ‘Calories in and calories out’ is a convenient argument that doesn’t add up

First of all, we must be somewhat kind to industry. Companies and their directors are mandated to shareholders to return profits – not protect the long-term health of those that consume their products, protect children from obesity or be concerned with the environmental outfall of their food processing. It is the role of governments to regulate the way in which companies act, and their indirect consequences on health.

With this in mind, food and drink companies want us to consume more. And more. And more. Consumption is profit, and profit is business. They are not going to like or entertain any messages that relate to limiting how much we eat, despite the building evidence that it matters a lot. Reflecting this, they conveniently oversimplify the obesity epidemic down to ‘calories in, calories out’. They argue that the issue is just one of balance, and to solve too much, we ‘just’ need to get more exercise. The blame thus moves from our food, to ourselves – and discussions rapidly focus on laziness, instead of our obesogenic diets and food systems.

The calories in one can of Coke take almost 5kms of walking to burn off. This is not just about walking more.

2. Sugar… And sugar

The World Health Organization recommends we receive no more than 10% of our daily calories from free sugars – those that are in juice, soft drinks and processed foods. While one single calorie may take the same effort to work off, it isn’t the same on the way in. Sugars in whole fruit and vegetables are not dangerous. But when they are in juice they are more similar to soft drink. This is because the fibre in whole fruits and vegetables makes you feel full and slows the sugar’s absorption into the blood – the latter resulting in a lower jump in insulin as a result.

Arguably the worst though, is the free sugar in soft drinks and soda. Contributing nothing of value to our diets and often referred to as ‘empty calories’ – these drinks cause the most rapid spikes in insulin and are associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.

3. The [global] science is clear

Whether we look at the Global Burden of Disease Studies by the IHME, The Lancet and The World Health Organization, or to the leading technical bodies on health, or government authorities, or even leading scientists – the evidence and the messages are clear. What, how and how much we eat, are making us sick. The globalisation, centralisation, homogenisation and industrialisation of our food systems has seen a major transition in our diets, and the outcome is a major driver of overweightedness, obesity and NCDs.

4. Let history not repeat itself

It is not the role of companies to protect the health of populations – their role is to sell us more of their products, driving consumption and profit. This is known to many of us, but we had better keep it in the forefronts of our minds.

Smoke and mirror tactics to deter public focus on regulation. Lies and distractions through funded, biased research. Denial of the health implications to protect profits, in direct contradiction to evidence and with known, massive public health outcomes. Does all this sound familiar? Is this Global Health déjà vu?

The 50 year journey from the first major calls for the control of tobacco to a global convention to protect the public, took too long and cost too many lives. We cannot let the same tactics delay progress again, and we should see this wolf for what it is. The product might be different but the tactics are alarmingly similar.

Not so sweet after all.

As billion dollar industries continue to feel threatened by the snowball in public opinion, as people and policy makers awaken to their dangerous and reckless behaviour, we are going to see desperate acts. Understanding the facts, and seeing their behaviour for what it truly is, is essential.

Confusion breeds complacency and apathy in policy and the public – they know this.

Let’s remind ourselves of the cold, hard facts.




Connect with Sandro on Twitter, via @sandrodemaio.

The Conversation

Alessandro R Demaio is Medical Doctor; Co-Founder of NCDFREE & festival21; Fellow in Global Health & NCDs at Harvard University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.