Sugar is one of the most widely consumed ingredients in the world, but it also has many negative impacts on health and the environment. Many people are looking for alternatives to sugar that are healthier and more sustainable. One of the options is organic allulose sweetener, a natural sugar substitute that is derived from organic sugar cane. But how sustainable is organic allulose sweetener? This article will explore the pros and cons of this sweetener from an environmental and social perspective.
Allulose: A Low-Calorie Natural Sweetener
Allulose is a rare sugar that is naturally found in some fruits, such as figs and raisins, but it can also be produced artificially by converting fructose. Allulose has 70% of the sweetness of sugar, but only 1/10th of the calories. It also does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels, and may have some health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar, increasing fat loss, and improving fatty liver.
Allulose: A More Eco-Friendly Option Than Sugar
Compared to sugar cane, allulose requires less land and water to grow, as it is sourced from a perennial crop that can grow in dry and marginal soils. Allulose also has a lower carbon footprint than sugar, as it is not metabolized by the body and does not contribute to caloric intake. A study by PureCircle, one of the largest allulose producers, found that the carbon footprint of allulose was 79% lower than high fructose corn syrup, 55% lower than beet sugar, and 29% lower than cane sugar per unit of sweetness.
Allulose: A Potential Threat to Biodiversity and Livelihoods
However, allulose production also has some challenges and drawbacks. One of them is the lack of organic certification and standards for allulose, as it is a relatively new product on the market. Another is the potential impact on the biodiversity and livelihoods of the indigenous farmers who grow the agave plants that are used to make allulose. Agave plants are native to Mexico and have been traditionally cultivated by smallholders who rely on them for food, medicine, and income. However, the increasing demand for agave nectar and tequila has put pressure on these farmers to supply more agave, which may lead to overharvesting, monocropping, and loss of genetic diversity. Moreover, these farmers may not benefit from the profits of the allulose industry, as they are often excluded from the value chain and face plant theft and other risks.
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Allulose: A Sustainable Sweetener With Caveats
Therefore, organic allulose sweetener may be a more sustainable option than sugar, but it is not without its environmental and social costs. Consumers who want to choose the most sustainable sweetener should look for products that are certified organic, fair trade, and traceable, and that support the local communities and ecosystems where the allulose is sourced from. Alternatively, they can opt for other natural sweeteners that have lower impacts, such as stevia, honey, or maple syrup. Ultimately, the best way to reduce the environmental and health effects of sugar consumption is to limit the intake of any sweetener and enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and other whole foods.