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Wholesome Sweeteners - Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey - 16 oz.

Item #: 81485
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Wholesome Sweeteners - Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey - 16 oz.

  • Code#:81485
  • Manufacturer:Wholesome Sweeteners
  • Size/Form:16  oz.
  • Packaged Ship Weight:1.10
  • Servings:22
  • Dosage Size:1  Tablespoon(s)

Wholesome Sweeteners - Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey - 16 oz.

Blended from multifloral nectar collected on Fair Trade Certified cooperatives in Quintana Roo and Chiapas, Mexico, Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey is processed below 110°F to maintain the nectar's natural properties. Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey is perfect in beverages, baked goods, fresh fruit, jams and spreads.

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey ensures that a fair price is paid directly to the farmers and beekeepers tending the hives; it means they can develop the quality of the hives and forage areas and build thriving communities. By protecting the hives and forage areas, Fair Trade Certified encourages biodiversity and helps the forests thrive, too.

Fair Trade and the beekeepers…
Wholesome buys honey from Fair Trade and organically certified beekeeping cooperatives in southern Mexico and northeastern Brazil.

In Chiapas's ARIC cooperative, 59 individual producers own between 90 and 150 hives each. The hives are tucked deep in the lush native forests and have been tended by Mayan communities for generations. Although theirs is a centuries-old beekeeping tradition, honey production has only recently been recognized as a viable and stable income opportunity in the global market.

In Brazil's arid northeastern states of Piaui and Ceara, beekeeping is a new economic opportunity. Founded in 2005 to develop beekeeping industry in the region, CASA APIS is a cooperative that counts more than 322 rural beekeepers among its membership. Nearby, another cooperative, COMAPI (founded in 2007) unites more than 540 member families.

Though geographies and membership vary, the goal of the Fair Trade Certified beekeeping cooperatives is the same:

  • Develop beekeeping practices, expertise and processing facilities to allow expansion into the global honey market.
  • Increase income and educational opportunities for the families involved and their home communities.
  • Diversify income opportunities through other agribusiness programs
  • Create a sustainable future for their children and generations to come.

In years past, middlemen, or “coyotes,” took a majority of the beekeepers’ income. With Fair Trade Certified, the middlemen are removed and the cooperatives work autonomously and directly with Wholesome Sweeteners. "The beekeepers are able to improve standards for their families, their communities and their honey, and protect precious rainforests and habitat,” says Pauline McKee, Wholesome Sweeteners VP Marketing. “While they look forward to business opportunities and a new sense of stability, the co-op members are inspired by their past. The Mayan beekeeping culture is surviving and thriving in the early 21st century."

About the honeybees
Bees are social insects that have co-evolved with nectar-producing flowering plants: The flowers provide the bees with food (nectar) and the bees cross-fertilize the flowering plants. Honey is simply the modified flower nectar, which the bees store in the hives and use to feed the queen and worker bees.

Apis, the honey-producing genus originated in India; Apis mellifera, the honeybee, evolved in subtropical Africa and now inhabits the Northern Hemisphere from the equator all the way to the Arctic Circle. The fossil record shows that bees have been around for 50 million years or so, and that the social structure of bees' colonies have been consistent for nearly half that time.

Bees are among natures' most important pollinators; it's a symbiotic relationship: both the bees and the plants benefit. Many of the plants we depend on for food (directly or indirectly), especially fruits, nut trees and vegetables are pollinated by bees, as are many of the herbaceous plants that cattle graze on, especially sweet clover. Cotton is pollinated by bees; so are sunflowers.

Flowers have developed special features to help bees find them, and bees have specialized "landing pads" (laden with the flower's pollen) which are located near a nectary, a small gland in the base of the corolla (where the petals join). The nectary is where the plant stores the nectar (made mostly of sucrose produced during photosynthesis). A bee lands in the flower and uses a specialized proboscis to siphon the nectar from the nectary and while doing so, gathers pollen on its hairy abdomen and legs. When the bee flies on to the next flower, it carries pollen as well as nectar, cross-pollinating as it goes.

Honey's color and flavor is a result of the flowers' nectar. Ours is a multi-floral blend of honey. In early February, the bees in Chiapas were foraging on sweet clover, morning glory, lantana, hibiscus and sunflowers, and for one brief week in Chiapas' Sierra Madre Mountains, the bees forage on coffee blossoms, helping pollinate coffee trees deep in the mountains. As the seasons progress, the blooming flowers change and so does the character of the honey, becoming darker and more flavorful by the end of the season. The flowers also determine the honey's sugar content and subsequently its glycemic index.

The bees use their proboscis like a straw, passing the nectar from the proboscis through its esophagus into a honey sac, where the bee stores the nectar until it returns to the hive. While in the honey sac, various glands secrete digestive enzymes (including invertase) into the nectar, which help break it into its component parts: glucose, fructose, amino acids, antioxidants and enzymes.

At the hive, the bees begin making the nectar into honey. The honey bee pumps the nectar in and out of itself for about 15 to 20 minutes to help evaporate water from the nectar, then deposits the honey in a thin layer across the honey combs. In a process called "ripening," worker bees use flight muscles to fan the honey for another three weeks or so to further evaporate the moisture to about 20%. (All those fluttering muscles are what make hives "buzzzz.") Reducing moisture reduces the opportunity for bacteria and mold to grow and helps preserve the honey until the bees need it.

Besides evaporating moisture, the ripening process allows time for those enzymes that the bee secreted into the honey sac to work. The enzyme invertase converts the sucrose into glucose and fructose (basically, the bees are making an invert sugar; it's more soluble in water than sucrose and can be concentrated without crystallizing); another enzyme oxidizes the glucose into gluconic acid and peroxides. Gluconic acid gives honey a pH of 3.9+/-, making it inhospitable to microbes, and the peroxides account for honey's antiseptic properties. Still other enzymes isolate the amino acids as well as a variety of antioxidant phenolic compounds.

Who's who in the hive
Bees live in a remarkably ordered world. Every bee in the hive has a specific role.

The Queen:
Each hive has just one, and it's her job to reproduce and maintain order. The qualities of the colony depend on her ability to lay eggs and produce pheromones. She is the only sexually developed female. Soon after emerging from her cell, she makes a few mating flights and in that time, collects all the drones' sperm she'll need for the rest of her life (90 million spermatazoa). From that point on, her work is cut out for her: to sustain the hive, she must lay up to 1500 eggs a day (as many as 250,000/year). The number of eggs she lays is dependent on food she receives and the worker force tending her brood.

An equally important role is imposing control: to do this, the Queen produces pheromones that restrict the sexual activity of the other bees, and help stabilize swarming activity, stimulate foraging and brood behavior and control development of the rest of the hive. Her average productive span is 2 to 3 years. When the queen's egg production begins slowing down, another queen is cultivated from within the larval group. New queens develop from fertilized eggs [or young worker bees not more than 3 days old; sometimes in emergencies, such as when the older queen dies or is removed]. The cultivated queen is fed nothing but "royal jelly." 

Drones:
Every hive has several hundred drones. They are the males and their only purpose is to mate with the queen on her initial mating flights. Except for that, as one noted bee biologist said, "they do no useful work for the hive." Drones are the largest bees in the colony. They have big heads, but no stingers or wax glands. They can sometimes feed themselves, but rely on the workers for food--eating as much as four times more than the workers. Researchers have never observed drones taking food from flowers. Drones have a very short lifespan. They reach sexual maturity a week after emerging and die immediately after mating with the queen.

Worker bees:
In the summer, an organic hive will hold as many as 60,000 bees (to make best use of available flora for honey); in winter, just 20,000 (to sustain the hive). These are the bees we see out and about the hives. These are also the bees that sometimes sting us... they're just doing their job. They have short, but productive lives. Their life span is 6 weeks in the summer and up to 6 months for those reared in the fall--they help the hive sustain and rebuild after the winter.

The worker bees are the smallest bees in hive. They are sexually undeveloped females. (Under normal conditions, worker bees do not lay eggs. However, if the hive becomes queenless, the ovaries of several worker bees will develop and they will lay unfertilized eggs.) Rather than developing ovaries, the worker bees develop barbed stingers and venom pouches. In addition to all the other work these bees do, they are responsible for protecting the hive. Honeybees don't usually sting unless provoked or defending the queen and the rest of the hive. But when they do attack, their barbed stinger stays in the intruder and the bee's abdomen rips open. They die instantly.

Worker bees have progressive assignments. When they emerge from their cells, (21 days or so) they begin cleaning the hive and feeding young larvae and the queen. As they mature (42 days old), the move on to more important jobs ... maintaining the hive's honeycombed structures and tending to the ripening nectar, then finally the bees dedicate themselves to food production, foraging for nectar, pollen and the materials used to make propolis (plant sap that's used as glue in the hive).

Bee biology:
All bees pass through three distinct stages before emerging as adults: egg, larvae and pupa; the pre-adult stage is collectively called the "brood stage." Unfertilized eggs become drones; fertilized eggs become workers or queens. The larvae destined to become workers receive less royal jelly and more honey and pollen while the larvae destined to be queens are fed copious quantities of royal jelly.

The length of the brood stage varies depending on the bee's role:

  • Queen : 16 days
  • Worker : 21 days
  • Drone : 24 days

The average ratio at any time in a healthy hive is four times as many pupae as eggs and twice as many larvae.

The hives
Besides the bees and their honey, there's the wonder of the hive itself. In nature, bees establish hives in a hollow tree or another good nesting place (sometimes between the walls of homes...). Bees are also happy to settle in man-made hives comprised of a series of frames and boxes. These are designed to accommodate the bees' social order and encourage honey production.

From the top down: Outer cover: The lid. It helps provide protection from the weather.

Inner cover: Helps prevent the bees from building honeycomb in the outer cover. It also helps insulate the hive.

Frames & foundations: These wooden frames hold sheets of beeswax that have been imprinted with the shapes of hexagonal cells. These imprints help the bees build straight combs. (The beekeepers help by saving the organic beeswax and casting it though a roller that creates a paper-thin wax sheet with the honeycomb pattern pressed into it.)

Honey chamber (or super): This is where the bees' surplus honey is stored. The 10 frames are in vertical slots. In some hives, two honey chambers are stacked on the larger brood chamber.

Brood chamber (also called a "super"): This chamber holds the frames in which the bees raise the brood cells and store the honey for their own use. The brood chamber holds 10 frames.

Bottom board: A wooden stand on which the rest of the hive is built. The bottom board has a framed edge with a narrow slot. The bees use this slot to move into and out of the hive. It's their only access as the other edges of the hive are sealed with propolis.

Hive stand: In some areas, the hives are set on leveled ground, in other places, the hive stands are set over a water trough to prevent climbing critters, like ants and millipedes from climbing in and contaminating the honey. You may have noted the changing color schemes on the hives. In Chiapas, where the hives stand in clusters deep in coffee plantations, the hives are brightly painted--with water colors, of course--so the beekeepers can find them.

The honeycomb: The central feature of the hive is the honeycomb. This marvel of insect engineering consists of vertical panels of six-sided cells made of beeswax. Why six sides? It simply the most efficient design: Engineering studies show that this six-sided, hexagonal shape is the strongest possible structure in nature and uses a minimum of materials.

Beeswax is produced from glands on the underside of the abdomens of worker bees when they are between 12 and 15 days old. Worker bees take the beeswax and form it with their mouths into the honeycomb. The cells within the comb will be used to raise young or to store honey and pollen. The combs are perfectly uniform in shape and built a precise distance apart depending on whether they are meant to contain food or young bees. (The nursery area of the hive is called the "brood comb"-it's where the queen lays her eggs.)

We often just see the honeycomb filled with honey from the end, but if you looked at a side view, you'd see a wax tube. In the brood cells, the queen deposits an egg, then, with care and feeding from the worker bees, the egg goes through the brood stages and emerges as an adult. During the pupal stage, the worker bees seal or cap the cells with wax. When the adults emerge from the cells, they simply chew the caps off the cells and literally go to work.

To protect the hive's honey and other food sources, the worker bees also cap the honey and pollen cells. While honey is the carbohydrate that fuels the hive, pollen provides the proteins and amino acids essential to bees. Pollen is between 6 and 28% protein. Bees store pollen in specialized cells as well, and mix it with honey to make "bee bread," which is the food source for most of the larvae and bees. "Royal jelly" is similar to bee bread, but it has a much higher concentration of honey. When a worker egg has been selected as a queen, it is moved to a larger cell and is fed royal jelly. The queen larvae is fed royal jelly until she emerges as an adult.

Collecting honey
In Mexico, the harvest season begins in December and continues through April. Beekeepers begin by removing the bees from the frames. Not surprisingly, this upsets the bees, who recognize only that their hive is under attack and their queen is in danger. To help "calm" them, the beekeepers pour smoke into the hive using a small smoker with a hand-pumped bellow. Inside the smoker's fire chamber, the beekeepers stuff nearby dried forage and wood a light a fire. The bellows help get the fire started and once started, helps the beekeeper pour the smoke into the hive. (In conventional honey processes, the burning materials include antibiotics and other synthetic chemicals ... this method is also used to medicate the hives. In organic hives, this is prohibited.)

As the bees settle down, the keepers, clad in light-colored clothing and veils, carefully pry the hive's lid off. The honeycomb-covered frames are arranged on edge in the hive boxes. When the frames are lifted out, they are covered in bees tending to the honey and brood cells. With a little smoke and a gentle brushing with a soft brush, the bees will leave the frame. (This is when most stings occur ... even with smoke, the bees are protecting their hive from danger.) While still in the field, the beekeepers gently cut away both sides of the honeycomb frames. The caps are put into a container called an uncapping tank that has a mesh screen on top. Honey drains through the screen in to the bottom of the container, while the caps and any other debris are collected in the screen.

The frames are then put into an extractor, a stacked series of containers and screens topped by drum that contains a rotating wire basket. The frames are placed in the basket and the basket is turned by hand. (It's essentially a centrifuge.) Centrifugal force pushes the honey out of the combs onto the sides of the tank. The honey drains through a small hole in the base of the drum into another strainer that filters out large debris. The filtered honey then drains into the base drum, a large tank with a spigot, or "honey gate," at the bottom. As honey settles in the tank, air bubbles and small debris rise to the top and can be skimmed off. When the frames are emptied, they are replaced in the hives and the bees settle quickly, going right back to work.

The beekeepers take the honey to the organic processing plant where it is filtered again and any excess moisture is evaporated. In the case of the RAW honey, evaporation occurs by simple exposure to warm dry air; in the case of the amber, the honey is gently heated to hasten evaporation. (Too much moisture in the honey encourages molds and bacterial growth--an unwelcome situation in the hive and in the honey we consume.)

Wholesome's honey is then transported to our 3rd party processor, where it is filtered for the final time, lab tested to be sure that it falls within National Organic Program and Wholesome's quality standards, and bottled.

As a rule, organic beekeepers leave 10% of the honey in the hive each year to help feed the bees during winter when there is no forage. (In conventional practice, the bees are fed sugar water or are just allowed to die and the hive is started anew the following spring with store-bought bees.)  

Organic honey
There are very precise requirements for USDA Organic honey. Although their producers are in Mexico, they follow these guidelines as well.

  • Honey must come from organic bees. Hives that have existing honey in them are prohibited in organic areas. The Mexican hives are in designated "Organic Zones."
  • Organic honey must be produced from naturally foraging bee colonies that are located at least 4 miles (straight-line flight) from any source that could cause the honey to contain herbicides or pesticides. Within this area, pesticides and herbicides are prohibited. The land must not have had any chemical application in the previous 3 years. Wholesome's suppliers keep their hives as much as 15km from a paved road in coffee plantations and tropical rainforests.
  • Feeding bees is prohibited. If feeding is necessary to prevent starvation, the honey produced is not organic.
  • Hives boxes etc. need to have all of their parts numbered to prevent accidental use in non-organic hives. All hive parts must be made of wood and if painted, they must be painted with non-toxic paints in a color appropriate for the climate. (Plastic is prohibited.)
  • Comb foundations must be made from organic beeswax.
  • Organic honey processors are specifically prohibited from "economic adulteration"--adding sugars, syrups or water to the organic honey.
  • The extraction facility must be certified organic, with specifically isolated areas designated for organic honey.
  • All organic honey must be certified by an approved organic certifying agency. Wholesome uses QAI, who are certified by USDA's NOP (National Organic Program). Note: The fine for calling it "organic" but not working to NOP standards is $10,000 (and may the bees sting you right on the nose and the tops of your ears. For shame!)
  • Their 3rd party supplier is further certified by local organic certifiers and only accepts honey from areas that are certified by a USDA NOP certifier. The certifier must also physically inspect the organic producing area.
  • Organic honey is processed only after all of the equipment has been completely flushed according to NOP standards.
  • Wholesome Sweeteners is able to track 100% of their organic honey-from the hive to the store's shelves.

Organically raised bees don't have the opportunity for any exposure to chemicals, which makes for a healthier and hardier hive. Moreover, because organic certification is an expensive commitment to NOP standards, the beekeepers are dedicated to maintaining the character of the hive AND the bees' local environment. Protecting the bees' forage helps more than the bees, it helps sustain bio-diversity and healthy ecosystems.

Bees, bugs and predators
Bees are susceptible to a variety of diseases and pests. The predators are mostly other animals (although in some places, molds are also a problem). The hives are set on short pedestals in shallow troughs of water to prevent ants and other climbing critters from getting into the hives and contaminating the honey. If hives do become infested or infected, they must be destroyed.

Other dangers include weather-related disasters. For example, in Chiapas, high winds in the coffee plantations damaged the pollen-bearing flowers, which in turn disrupted the bees' nectar-gathering activities (and often killed any bees outside of the hive when the storms began).

  • Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the name that has been given to the latest, and what seems to be the most serious, die-off of honeybee colonies across the country. It is characterized by, sudden colony death , but honey and bee bread are usually present and there is often evidence of recent brood rearing. In some cases, the queen and a small number of survivor bees may be present in the brood nest. It is also characterized by delayed robbing and slower than normal invasion by common pests such as wax moth and small hive beetles. According to Wholesome's cooperative partners, honey bees in Chiapas have not experienced CCD.

Cooking with honey
When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in recipes. When baking...

  • Reduce any liquid called for in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey used
  • Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F and add a few minutes to the timer.
  • Because of honey's high fructose content it has more sweetening power than table sugar. Less is more!
  • When measuring honey, coat the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil before adding the honey. It will slide right out.
  • A 12-ounce jar of honey equals a standard measuring cup.

Honey, did you know....

  • It takes 556 worker bees flying 35,584 miles to produce 1 lb of honey. In its lifetime, a single bee will contribute 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey to the hive (one-twelfth)-every teaspoon of honey represents the life's work of a dozen bees.
  • For every pound of honey taken to market, eight pounds are used by the bees to sustain the hive.
  • Bees don't see red, but they do see ultraviolet light (which we can't see without special filters).
  • Bees maintain their hives at a constant 89°F 32+/-0.6°C no matter what the weather is doing outside the hive. Bees control their own body temperatures by expanding or contracting their muscles and so help control the temperature of the hive as well. (Temperatures in the hive also influence the honey's color and flavor.)
  • Swarming honeybees are nothing more than a new queen and her workers looking for a new home. Because they haven't settled in a hive yet and have nothing to protect, they are very passive.
  • Bees are attracted to dark colors, but not to light colors. Bees will not generally attack light clothing, that's why beekeepers often wear white coveralls and white veils.

FAQ

What does "Certified Organic" mean?
"Certified Organic" means the item has been grown according to strict uniform standards that are verified by independent state or private organizations. Certification includes inspections of farm fields and processing facilities, detailed record keeping and periodic testing of soil and water to ensure that growers and handlers are meeting the standards which have been set.

Why buy Organic?
Organic products offer many benefits from a health and environmental aspect. When you buy certified organic food and products, your dollars cast a vote for a healthier planet.

Ten Good Reasons To Buy Organic:

  1. Organic products meet stringent standards. Organic certification is the public's assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent chemical inputs.
  2. Organic food tastes great! It's common sense: Well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals.
  3. Organic production reduces health risks. Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is one way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us.
  4. Organic farms respect our water resources. The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitroglycerin fertilizers, done in combination with soil conservation, protects and conserves water resources.
  5. Organic farms build healthy soil. Soil is the foundation of the food chain. A primary focus of organic farming is to protect and build healthy soils.
  6. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature. Organic farmers respect the balance demands of a healthy ecosystem: wildlife is encouraged by using permanent pastures, utilizing buffer zones, planting wildlife refuges and by protecting wetlands, forest and other natural areas.
  7. Organic producers are leaders in innovative research. Organic farmers have led the way, largely at their own expense, with innovative on-farm research aimed at reducing pesticide use and minimizing agriculture's impact on the environment.
  8. Organic producers strive to preserve diversity. The loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of the most pressing environmental concerns. The good news is that many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving seeds, and growing unusual varieties for decades.
  9. Organic farming helps keep rural communities healthy. The USDA reported that in 1997, half of US farm production came from only 2% of farms. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can command fair prices for crops.
  10. Organic abundance: Foods and non-foods alike! Now every food category has an organic alternative. And non-food agricultural products are being grown organically - even cotton, which most experts felt could not be grown this way.

Are Wholesome Sweeteners' organic products certified?
Yes, all Wholesome Sweeteners' organic products are certified organic by Quality Assurance International. These products are produced in accordance with the USDA's Natural Organic Program and they display the USDA logo on all their organic sweetener products.

Are your products GMO-Free?
Yes, Wholesome Sweeteners' products are processed and produced free of any genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Do organic farmers ever use pesticides?
Prevention is the organic farmer's primary strategy for disease, weed and insect control. By building healthy soils, organic farmers find that healthy plants are better able to resist disease and insects. Organic producers often select species that are well adapted for the climate and therefore resiste disease and pests. When pest populations get out of balance, growers will try various options like insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers. If these fail, permission may be granted by the certifier to apply botanical or other nonpersistent pest controls under restricted conditions. Botanicals are derived from plants and are broken down quickly by oxygen and sunlight.

Can any type of agricultural product become certified organic?
Yes, any agricultural product that meets third party or state certification requirements may be considered organic. Organic foods are becoming available in an impressive variety including pasta, prepared sauces, frozen juices, frozen meals, milk, ice cream and frozen novelties, cereals, meta poultry, breads, soups, chocolate, cookies, beer, wine, vodka and more. These foods, in order to be certified organic, have all been grown and processed according to national organic standards and must maintain a high level of quality. Organic fiber products, too, have moved beyond t-shirts, and include bed and bath linens, tablecloths, napkins, cosmetic puffs, feminine hygiene products and clothing.

Who regulates the certified organic claims?
The federal government set standards for the production, processing and certification or organic food in the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). The National Organic Standards Board was then established to develop guidelines and procedures to regulate all organic crops. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) during December 2000 unveiled detailed regulations to implement OFPA. These took effect on April 21, 2001, with an 18-month implementation period ending October 2002. At that time, any food labeled organic must meet these national organic standards. USDA's National Organic Program oversees the program.

How will purchasing organic products help keep our water clean?
Conventional agricultural methods can cause water contamination. Beginning in May 1995, a network of environmental organizations, including the Environmental Working Group, began testing tap water for herbicides in cities across the United States' Corb Belt, and in Louisiana and Maryland. The results revealed widespread contamination of tap water with many different pesticides at levels that present serious health risks. In some cities, herbicides in tap water exceed federal lifetime health standards for weeks or months at a time. The organic farmer's elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, in combination with soil building, works to prevent contamination and protects and conserves water resources.

Does Wholesome Sweeteners use animal by-products in the production of its products?
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic and Natural Sugars (including Organic Sugar, Organic Sucanat, Light and Dark Brown Sugars, Turbinado, Powdered Sugar, Raw Cane Sugar, Natural Cane Sugar), Organic Blue Agave nectars, and Organic Syrups are made without animal by-products. Wholesome Sweeteners' Fair Trade Organic Honeys are, of course, produced by bees.

How do I use Organic Sugar in baking?
Use the Organic Sugar as a one-for-one replacement for refined white sugar in all of your recipes. It is perfect for baking, sprinkling on cereals and for use in hot and cold beverages.

What is a common sugar?
Common sugars, glucose, fructose and sucrose, are also carbohydrates--fuel for our bodies. They are made up of carbon ("carbo-"), hydrogen ("hydr") and oxygen, and in fact, they share the same chemical formula, C6H12O6. Carbohydrates are produced by ALL living things (plants and animals) for the storage of energy. And let's face it: We need carbs to function. They provide the energy for our brains, for our muscles, for our cardio-vascular system. Common sugars are the most concentrated source of carbs, or energy, we have, second only to fats and oils.

Plants and animals, including, of course, humans, put these carbs to use in two ways:

  • Storage of chemical energy in the form of calories (4 cal/gram)
  • Building blocks for our cells.

Carbs sometimes get a bad rap. They shouldn't. They are important to our bodies' function. Carbs in balance are not a problem, per se; carbs out of balance are a big problem. Lately some people have been eating more synthetically produced carbs than their bodies can use. The excess is stored as fat.

While sugars offer us so much in biochemical terms, we most often think about sugars as sweet things that make every day better. Sweetness helps mask undesirable flavors (it was used to administer medicines during the Middle Ages). It also enhances our perception of food aromas, perhaps by signaling to the brain that the food is a good energy source.

Besides providing energy to our bodies and sweetening the foods we eat, sugar provides texture as well.

  • It forms a sticky matrix that binds food particles together. It has a strong affinity for water, it dissolves easily and bonds quickly to water molecules so it helps keep baked good moist. It helps tenderizes flour's gluten in baked goods and softens proteins in custards and creams.
  • When heated (or caramelized), it changes color as it changes in flavor--from pale and sweet, to browner and acidic, to darker and bitter, adding visual and olfactory appeal.

The Common Sugars: Glucose, Fructose & Sucrose

Glucose: Simple sugar or monosaccharide/C6H12O6 (aka: dextrose)

Living cells get most of their energy from glucose. It's a basic building block for starches and is commonly derived from corn and rice, but it's also in many fruits and honeys. It's Always combined with other sugars (especially fructose). Alone, glucose metabolizes quickly, flooding the system with energy, then dissipating. (Some folks experience this as a blood sugar spike.) When glucose is combined with other common sugars, the other sugars help sustain its benefits.

Compared to other common cooking sugars (sucrose and fructose), glucose:

  • Is the least sweet
  • Is slow to taste sweet, peaks at about half the sweetness of sugar and lingers.
  • Is less soluble in water
  • Produces a thinner solution
  • Caramelizes at 300° F/150°C
  • Crystallizes, given enough time and the right temperature

Fructose: Simple sugar or monosaccharide/C6H12O6

Fructose, the common sugar, is vastly different from the manufactured high fructose corn syrup we've heard so much about lately. Like glucose, fructose is found in many fruits and honey. Fructose has the same chemical formula as glucose, but it's organized differently, and that makes all the difference. Most importantly, fructose metabolizes slowly, providing a "timed release" of energy.

Compared to other common cooking sugars fructose:

  • Is the sweetest of the common sugars
  • Our tastebuds recognize its sweetness quickly and strongly, but it fades quickly without a lingering aftertaste
  • Is most soluble in water (4 parts fructose will dissolve in 1 part water)
  • Begins to caramelize at 220° F/105° C
  • Doesn't crystallize when it's the dominant common sugar.

Fructose's sweetness varies depending on temperature. Its structure actually changes when heated or cooled. It's sweetest in cold solutions, but only about half as sweet in warm solutions (140° F/60° C).

Sucrose: Compound sugar or disaccharide/Glucose+Fructose (a.k.a table sugar)

Green plants produce sucrose in the process of photosynthesis and it's found in sugar cane and sugar beets. Sucrose offers us the most useful combination of properties:

  • It's not as sweet as fructose, but sweeter than glucose
  • It's less soluble than fructose, but more soluble than glucose
  • It takes just a bit of time for our tastebuds to detect sucrose's sweetness, then we enjoy the flavor a little longer
  • 2 parts of sucrose can dissolve in 1 part water (Produces the most viscosity or thickness in a water solution)
  • Begins to melt at 320°F/160°C and begins to caramelize at 340°F/170°C

What is fructose?
Fructose (C6H12O6), the common sugar, is a monosaccharide. Like glucose, fructose is found in many fruits and honey. It is the common sugar found in Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave. Fructose is a naturally occuring fruit sugar that metabolizes slowly, providing a "timed release" of energy. It's the same type of sugar found in an apple.

Compared to other common cooking sugars fructose:

  • Is the sweetest of the common sugars
  • Our tastebuds recognize its sweetness quickly and strongly, but it fades quickly without a lingering aftertaste
  • Is most soluble in water (4 parts fructose will dissolve in 1 part water)
  • Begins to caramelize at 220° F/105° C, a much lower temperature than other common sugars
  • Doesn't crystallize.

Fructose's sweetness varies depending on temperature. Its structure actually changes when heated or cooled. It's sweetest in cold solutions, but only about half as sweet in warm solutions (140° F/60° C). Please note: Fructose is vastly different from the manufactured high fructose corn syrup we've heard so much about lately.

What is glucose?
Living cells in plants and animals get most of their energy from glucose (C6H12O6), a monosaccharide. It's a basic building block for starches and is commonly derived from corn and rice, but it's also in many fruits and honeys. It's always combined with other sugars (especially fructose). Alone, glucose metabolizes quickly, flooding the system with energy, then dissipating. (Some folks experience this as a blood sugar spike.) When glucose is combined with other common sugars, the other sugars help sustain its benefits.

Compared to other common cooking sugars (sucrose and fructose), glucose:

  • Is the least sweet
  • Is slow to taste sweet, peaks at about half the sweetness of sugar and lingers.
  • Is less soluble in water
  • Produces a thinner solution
  • Caramelizes at 300° F/150°C
  • Crystallizes, given enough time and the right temperature

What is sucrose?
Green plants produce sucrose in the process of photosynthesis and it's found in sugar cane and sugar beets. Sucrose is the basic building block of crystallized and granulated sugars. A combination of fructose and glucose (and therefore a disaccharide), sucrose brings us the best of both.

  • It's not as sweet as fructose, but sweeter than glucose
  • It's less soluble than fructose, but more soluble than glucose
  • It takes just a bit of time for our tastebuds to detect sucrose's sweetness, then we enjoy the flavor a little longer
  • 2 parts of sucrose can dissolve in 1 part water (Produces the most viscosity or thickness in a water solution)
  • Begins to melt at 320°F/160°C and begins to caramelize at 340°F/170°C

Why is Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sugar not pure white?
Their Organic Sugar is produced without the use of chemicals or decolorizing agents. Some of the sugar canes' natural molasses remains in and around the sugar crystals as they form. It is the retention of this natural molasses that gives the Organic Sugar its warm honey color and mellow flavor.

Are Wholesome Sweeteners' sugars produced from sugar cane or sugar beet?
All their organic and natural sugars are produced from sugar cane (Saccharum Officinarum).

Are Wholesome Sweeteners' products Kosher certified?

Wholesome Sweeteners' Kosher products include:

  • Organic Fair Trade Sugar
  • Organic Fair Trade Sucanat
  • Organic Turbinado
  • Organic Fair Trade Light Brown Sugar
  • Organic Fair Trade Dark Brown Sugar
  • Organic Fair Trade Powdered Sugar
  • Fair Trade Raw Cane Sugar
  • Fair Trade Natural Cane Sugar
  • Organic Zero
  • Organic Fair Trade Molasses
  • Organic Light Blue Agave
  • Organic Raw Blue Agave

How is Blue Agave nectar made?
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave nectars are species-specific, made exclusively from Central Mexico's renowned Blue Agave plant. Blue agave shapes its native landscape, adding color and character to thousands of acres of Jalisco's subtropical region. Blue agave (Agave tequilana var. Weber), a member of the Amaryllis family, is a slow-growing plant that spreads runners from a 'mother' plant. The runners are then harvested and replanted; some are cultivated for blue agave nectar (or tequila), while others become new mother plants. Grown to USDA Organic Standards, the agave is cultivated and processed without chemicals or genetic modification.

After growing for 5 to 7 years, a mature blue agave stands several feet tall and its carbohydrates are concentrated in the plant's core. The blue agave's treasure is held in the pina (so called because it resembles a pineapple after the leaves have been trimmed away). Wax in the blue agave's long leaves gives the species its bluish color.

Farmers hand-cut the blue agave with a simple razor-sharp blade. (A skilled farmer can cut and trim a 100- pound blue agave pina in less than 5 minutes.) The field trimmings are left behind to restore the soil and reduce erosion. The fibrous blue agave pina is taken to the mill where it is pressed and its inulin-rich juice is collected and cleaned.

Inulin, a dietary fiber made up of complex carbohydrates, is not sweet by nature. Exposing (or hydrolyzing) the inulin to heat transforms it into sweet nectar. When making the Light Blue Agave nectar, the juice is heated to a higher temperature for a short time. However, when making the Raw Blue Agave nectar, the process is lower and much slower: the juice is warmed to a lower temperature and the low heat is maintained for nearly twice as long. In this simple process, the inulin becomes fructose, a slowly metabolizing sugar found in many fruits and vegetables. Filtering determines the blue agave nectars' flavor and color. The Light Blue Agave is simply more filtered than its Raw-Amber counterpart.

What is the Glycemic Index--and how does it work?
Glycemic Index is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels. The glycemic index of a food is a measurement of the changes in our bodies' blood sugar in the two hours after we eat something. Foods that metabolize quickly, flooding our system with carbs/energy, are generally referred to as high glycemic foods; food that metabolize slowly are low glycemic foods. Low GI foods generally offer our bodies a more sustained, slow release of carbs/energy. (Some believe that low GI foods are especially useful for people monitoring their blood sugar.)

What is the Glycemic index of Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Light & Raw Blue Agave?
Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agave nectars have a glycemic index of about 39. It will vary from person to person. It depends on how each of us metabolizes it, and on other foods consumed at the same time. Wholesome's agave nectars have been tested by an independent glycemic index lab. The GI testing laboratory has taken due care to ensure the accuracy of the results provided in this report. It's important to remember that the results of glycemic response tests in human subjects are subject to biological variability and may vary depending on the methods used. Thus, these results may not be able to be reproduced either by the GI testing lab or by others.

What is the Glycemic Index of honey?
Honey is a combination of sugars. Honey's GI varies considerably based on the bees' forage. Some honeys are mostly sucrose; others are evenly divided among sucrose, fructose and glucose; others are mostly fructose. Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Amber and Raw Honeys are both multi-floral nectars, and as such, they have about equal levels of glucose and fructose, in addition to other more complex sugars. The GI of their honey is comparable to that of sugar, about 68 on the glucose scale.

Because they are organic, are Wholesome Sweeteners sugars also low glycemic or "healthier" than other sugars on the market?
While their methods of making sugar are shaped by social and environmental values, and a genuine concern for the long term health of the planet, even organic sugar is still nearly 99.5% sucrose.

Sucanat, Wholesome's whole cane sugar, contains all of the cane's natural molasses. It has a slightly lower level of sucrose in each granule and more of molasses' vitamins and minerals. Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave and Organic Raw Blue Agave nectars are primarily naturally occuring fructose and so have a glycemic index of 39 or less.

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Zero is a sugar substitute made from sugar, but it has zero calories, zero glycemic index and zero artificial ingredients. It's organic Erythritol, a compound found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, and fermented foods like cheeses, soy sauces, and even some wines and beers. Our bodies even produce it naturally. But because our bodies don't have the enzymes necessary to digest Erythritol, is sweetens gently, then passes through our systems. Most people find it to be highly digestible.

What is the shelf life of Sucanat? How long can I store Sucanat?
The product shelf life for theirr Sucanat is indefinite provided that it is stored in an ambient temperature at 40% - 70% relative humidity to maintain its free-flowing characteristic. The product can setup during extended storage and cold temperatures. Simply rolling the bag should restore the free-flowing characteristic.

What grade is Wholesome Sweeteners' Organic Blackstrap Molasses?
Grade A. Based on the required minimum Brix solids, total sugar, minimum ash and total sulfite of the US Standards for Grades of Sugarcane Molasses, Wholesome Sweeteners' Organic Blackstrap Molasses falls within Grade A.

Where do they source their organic sugar cane?
This begins at Azucarera Paraguaya's (AZPA) organic sugar cane plantation in Paraguay. Wholesome Sweeteners is proud to work in close partnership with this 95-year-old sugar producer who's mission and objectives are to continually improve processes and produce an excellent product, in an ethical manner, while keeping the environmental impact to a minimum.

AZPA also buys organic sugar cane from local farmers and, as demand for organic sugar increases, more and more local farmers are receiving training and help from AZPA and are converting to organic farming practices. Presently the split is approximately 20% of the cane is being sourced from AZPA's own plantations and 80% from local independent growers. AZPA funds a school for all employees' children, provides medical facilities which include a full, qualified doctor, and workers with over five years of service are awarded a plot of land and an interest-free loan with which to build a home.

Like Wholesome Sweeteners, AZPA sees the importance of environmental quality. For example, the remnants of the sugar cane, called "bagasse", after the juice has been extracted, is used as the main fuel that fires the ovens and provides the entire electricity requirements of the mill and offices. The whole production process for their organic sugar cane is totally self-sufficient! Excess bagasse is also used in the fields as an organic fertilizer and weed suppressant. The water, containing the mud and sediment washed from the cane, is dredged, the "sludge" used as a natural fertilizer and the clean water returned to the Tebicuarymi River. The mill's sizeable reforestation program has planted over 800 hectares with indigenous trees which generates additional employment opportunities for local agricultural workers during the traditionally quieter months in the year. The economic development of 16 local towns, all within a 60 km radius, are largely dependent on the prosperity of the mill. AZPA has also built and now maintains 400 km of local roads in their province.

What's the difference between Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Light Corn Syrup and high fructose corn syrup?
HFCS and Organic Corn Syrup (from NW 2/1/07)
The short answer is yes, a syrup similar to the composition of HFCS is part of our base blend but the consumer is not going to find a corn syrup without any fructose content.

Regular Corn Syrup is a blend of Glucose predominantly, Fructose, and other sugars all manufactured from corn.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is very similar but as the name suggests contains a higher proportion Fructose, though it is still predominantly Glucose. It is glucose that significantly raises blood sugar levels. However, HFCS, legally just to make for further confusion, for international tariff purposes, it is described as Glucose Syrup.

The reason for the addition of the fructose to Light Corn Syrup is that it makes the product lighter, sweeter and less viscose so it is actually pourable as a retail product. Straight corn syrup is very thick and glutinous.

Wholesome's Organic Corn Syrup and Organic Pancake & Waffle Syrup are both made from GMO-free organic corn grown and processed in Europe. While the main ingredient, organic glucose syrup made from corn is similar in composition to conventional high fructose corn syrup, but it is in the same way that organic evaporated cane juice is similar to refined sugar. Organic glucose syrup has been produced by an enzymatic organically approved process as opposed to the intense chemical process that is used in regular corn syrup and HFCS production.

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Light Corn Syrup is offered as an alternative to the conventional retail Light Corn Syrup products. It is an artisan baking product and pour-over syrup. Our Organic Light Corn Syrup is 50/50 blend of Organic Corn Syrup and Organic Glucose Syrup with Organic Vanilla and a tiny amount of salt. The product is designed to offer an organic alternative to a traditional baking item to meet consumer demand and requests. We feel Wholesome Sweeteners product not only achieves that but also achieves our benchmark for products bearing the Wholesome name in that it is actually a far superior quality product to the conventional product that is currently being marketed. Just taste it against the conventional brand-leading Karo product and you can clearly taste the quality difference.

What is the difference between fructose and high fructose corn syrup?
Fructose, the naturally occuring common sugar found Blue Agave as well as in so many of the plants we eat every day, is, literally, as old as those proverbial hills. It's not invented, it occurs on nature's terms, not ours. However, in the 1960s, with the advent of new laboratory processes, food scientists found a way to convert the glucose molecules in inexpensive and abundant corn syrup into fructose. Standard High Fructose Corn Syrup is about 53% glucose and 42% fructose. Manufacturer's grade HFCS (what goes into soft drinks, etc.) is 25% glucose with much as 75% converted to fructose.

What's the difference between Sucanat and Evaporated Cane Juice?
To begin, all of Wholesome Sweeteners' sugars are made from sugar cane. Cane is crushed within hours of harvesting to extract the juice, water is added, the syrup is clarified (with slaked lime, per USDA Organic standards), then concentrated through heat and dehydrated to make Sucanat or crystallized to produce Evaporated Cane Juice (--Turbinado is an evaporated cane juice).

Sucanat (DEHYDRATED cane juice) is produced from a pure cane sugar juice, which naturally contains about 13% molasses and 87% sugar. Through dehydration and aeration (hand-paddling, actually), a granular, dry, free-flowing brown sugar is produced which contains all of the molasses inherent in cane juice. It is a source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and chromium. Nothing is added and nothing is removed.

Wholesome's other sugars (Fair Trade Organic Sugar, Organic Turbinado, Fair Trade Organic Light and Dark Brown Sugars and Powdered Sugar, as well as Fair Trade natural Cane Sugar and Fair Trade Raw Cane Sugar) are all made from EVAPORATED cane juice and are produced by evaporation then crystallization. The juice is spun in a turbine (hence "Turbinado"), which separates the majority of molasses from the sugar crystals. The product is therefore much lighter in color and flavor and better for more sensitive applications where a molasses flavor is undesirable. As compared to the 13% of molasses present in Sucanat, Evaporated Cane Juice has a range of 0.2%-2% molasses.

The difference in their Evaporated Cane Juice products is in crystal size and molasses content. Turbinado (also called Demerara-style or Raw sugar) is a large, golden crunchy crystal, while the powdered sugar is a finely ground Evaporated Cane Juice sugar with 3% organic tapioca starch added to prevent caking). The Organic Sugar is a one-for-one replacement for refined white sugar and the brown sugars are both organic sugar with varying influences of molasses.

Why does Sucanat's color vary so much?
The changes in color you see are entirely safe. Sucanat is a minimally processed sugar, influenced by changes in weather and soil conditions at the Costa Rican farms where the sugar cane is grown. Once harvested, the cane is crushed and the plant's juices are extracted. Cane juice, in this form, contains molasses, sucrose (sugar) and vitamins, minerals and trace elements naturally present in the sugar cane plant. The complete juice is dehydrated to reduce the fluid in evaporation pans - this increases viscosity - the resulting syrup is poured into large basins and using large paddles the syrup is Paddled By Hand. The continuous hand paddling aerates the super-heated syrup and transforms it into porous granules - Sucanat granules. Wholesome Sweetener's Organic Sucanat is not blended; it has never been separated or colored.

How do you guarantee the quality of Wholesome Sweeteners products?
Wholesome Sweeteners suppliers are closely vetted for quality, organic certification and social responsibility in addition to any Fair Trade or Raw Food claims where applicable. We hold ourselves and our suppliers to the highest standards. After all, those are the standards and values that have built the success of our business.
Wholesome's Executive and Operations teams routinely visit the our producers fields and mills, watching as it is planted, harvested and processed. In addition to regular inspections by Quality Assurance International and Fair Trade Labelling Organizations, Wholesome's Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Quality Assurance Manager have audited cooperatives, farms and the processes.

What is organic?
Organic refers to the way agricultural products - food and fiber - are grown and processed. Organic food production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food.

How much sugar does an acre of cane produce?
While there are many environmental conditions that impact every harvest, in general, an acre of organically cultivated cane will yield 3 to 3.5 metric tons (6,500 to 7,500 lbs) of organic sugar. As a rule, about 10% of the harvest is saved and replanted. And every few years, the cane fields are intercropped with legumes (peas, etc) to restore nutrients to the soil. It depends on the region, but organically grown sugar cane yields tend to be about 70-80% of conventional cane cultivation and the subsequent sugar yield is about 90%.

How do I use Wholesome Sweeteners sugars in my kitchen?
Wholesome Sweeteners sugars are excellent one-for-one, or measure-for-measure, replacements for conventionally refined sugars. In some situations, however, organic sugar will perform just a little differently than its refined counterparts, after all, they're working with nature, and variety is one of nature's key features. While every crystal of conventionally refined sugar is essentially an exact replica of every other crystal, Wholesome Sweeteners organic, unrefined sugars are produced within a limited range of sizes and colors.

Is there an official definition of "organic"?
The following excerpt is from the definition of "organic" that the National Organic Standards Board adopted in April 1995: "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony."

How should I cook with Organic Blue Agave and does it need to be refrigerated?
Organic Blue Agave is an absolutely succulent sweetener. Fructose, the common sugar that gives Blue Agave its remarkable flavor, has a bright sweetness that you taste immediately, then it softy fades, without leaving any aftertaste. Sucrose, or sugar, on the other hand, isn't as sweet initially, but its sweet flavor lasts a bit longer.

Here are a couple of special considerations when replacing sugar with Blue Agave in a recipe:

  • As a first recommendation, we suggest you approach it as play ... (food is so much fun!)
  • Begin by replacing sugar with Blue Agave measure for measure, then adjust accordingly according to your own sweet sensibilities.
  • Because Blue Agave's sweetness dissipates quickly, you might consider adding dried fruit or chocolate to a recipe to extend the sweet taste without significantly increasing the glycemic index of the recipe.
  • Because Blue Agave adds liquid to a recipe, we suggest that you reduce other liquids in the recipe by as much as 30%.
  • Finally, because Blue Agave caramelizes at a much lower temperature than regular sugar, we suggest a lower and slower approach to baking: set the oven temperature 15°-25° lower than called for in a sugar recipe, and bake a bit slower...leave it in longer.

While we recommend storing Organic Blue Agave syrup with the lid on and in a dark cool environment, refrigeration is optional. The minimum shelf life is 2 years after opening, but we have never met anyone who needed to test that limit. It's too delicious to last that long!

Are all organic products completely free of pesticide residues?
Certified organic products have been grown and handled according to strict standards without toxic and persistent chemical inputs. However, organic crops are inadvertently exposed to agricultural chemicals that are now pervasive in rain and ground water due to their overuse during the past fifty years in North America, and due to drift via wind and rain.

Is organic food better for you?
There is no conclusive evidence at this time to suggest that organically produced foods are more nutritious. Rather, organic foods and fiber are spared the application of toxic and persistent insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers. Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. In the long run, organic farming techniques provide a safer, more sustainable environment for everyone.

Why does organic food sometimes cost more?
Prices for organic foods reflect many of the same costs as conventional items in terms of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all these steps, so the process is often more labor and management intensive, and farming tends to be on a small scale. There is also mounting evidence that if all the indirects costs of conventional food production - cleanup of polluted water, replacement of eroded soils, costs of health care for farmers and their workers - were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same, or more likely, be less expensive.

Isn't organic food just a fad?
No. US sales of organic food totaled $5.4 billion in 1998, about $6.5 billion in 1999, and reached nearly $7.8 billion in 2000. The market has grown 20%-24% annually during the 1990s. The adoption of national standards for certification is expected to open up new markets for US organic producers.

What is the difference between Sucanat and other cane sugars, such as Organic Sugar, Brown Sugar and Turbinado?
To begin, all of Wholesome Sweeteners' sugars are made from sugar cane. Cane is crushed within hours of harvesting to extract the juice, water is added, the syrup is clarified (with slaked lime, per USDA Organic standards), then concentrated through heat and dehydrated to make Sucanat or crystallized to produce Evaporated Cane Juice (--Turbinado is an evaporated cane juice).

Sucanat (DEHYDRATED cane juice) is produced from a pure cane sugar juice, which naturally contains about 13% molasses and 87% sugar. Through dehydration and aeration (hand-paddling, actually), a granular, dry, free-flowing brown sugar is produced which contains all of the molasses inherent in cane juice. It is a source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and chromium. Nothing is added and nothing is removed.

Wholesome's other sugars (Fair Trade Organic Sugar, Organic Turbinado, Fair Trade Organic Light and Dark Brown Sugars and Powdered Sugar, as well as Fair Trade natural Cane Sugar and Fair Trade Raw Cane Sugar) are all made from EVAPORATED cane juice and are produced by evaporation then crystallization. The juice is spun in a turbine which separates some but not all of the molasses from the sugar crystals. The brown tones of the evaporated cane sugars are entirely influenced by the relative amount of molasses in each crystal. Some sugars, such as the Organic Sugar, are much lighter in color and flavor and better for more sensitive applications where a strong molasses flavor is undesirable. On the other hand, Turbinado has a higher molasses content--more molasses flavor and a darker, richer color. As compared to the 13% of molasses present in Sucanat, Evaporated Cane Juice sugars has a range of 0.2%-2% molasses.

The difference in their Evaporated Cane Juice products is in crystal size and molasses content. Turbinado (also called Demerara-style or Raw sugar) is a large, golden crunchy crystal, while the powdered sugar is a finely ground Evaporated Cane Juice sugar with 3% organic tapioca starch added to prevent caking). The Organic Sugar is a one-for-one replacement for refined white sugar and the brown sugars are both organic sugar with varying influences of molasses.

What is "raw" or "Turbinado" sugar?
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic "Raw" or "Turbinado" sugar is made through a very direct process. Never bleached and minimally processed, raw or Turbinado sugar is made quickly from cane juice extracted from cane within just hours of harvest. Water is added and the liquid is heated, then filtered through slaked lime (the only filtering agent allowed by the USDA for organic certification). Once filtered, the cane juice is spun in a turbine (hence the name) to create large crystals and naturally settle some of the molasses from the sucrose The end result is Turbinado, that crunchy golden crystal we so love on baked goods and in beverages. Because is it so minimally processed it is called also called "raw' or "unrefined." Turbinado is also known in Europe as "Demerara," so named for the Demerara River in Guyana where it was first made.

Are cane fields burned by Wholesome Sweeteners' farmers?
They "green cut" the cane which means that they do not spray or burn their fields and the sugar cane is hand-cut. The leaves and the tops of the cane are left in the field as a nutrient source for the soil and as a natural form of weed contol.

How do I read the codes on the package?
The codes on Wholesome Sweeteners sugar bags are simply internal codes that identify each package's packaging date and location. (Sugar has an indefinite shelf-life.)

What is the difference between Blackstrap Molasses and Barbados Molasses?
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Unsulphured Molasses is a vitamin rich by-product of the sugar-making process. When freshly cut sugar cane is processed, the sucrose, or sugar, is literally spun from the molasses. In addition to guaranteed Organic and Fair Trade certifications, Wholesome's minimal refining processes provides a sweeter molasses flavor than commercially available Blackstrap Molasses. Barbados, or Light, Molasses contains a higher concentration of sucrose. (Note: Sugar beet molasses is unpalatable to humans--it is very bitter--and is mostly used as cattle feed.)

How is organic corn syrup made?
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Corn Syrup is a special blend of organic corn syrup and organic glucose syrup with just a hint of organic vanilla added. The syrups are produced in "hot batch" cooking pans. The ingredients are blended and heated, then passed through to the filling operation where they are filled into bottles, metal detected, capped, washed, dried, labelled and then shipped to the US. No chemicals or additions to the recipe are added, only what is declared on the label.

When talking about harvesting sugar cane, what does "green-cut" mean?
Although labor intensive, green-cutting sugar cane is simply the most environmentally friendly harvesting method possible. It is the first step in the Wholesome Sweeteners sugar-making process.

When perfectly matured, the cane is hand-cut by machete-wielding farmers. They cut the cane close to the ground, just above the root stalk, then trim the leaves from the cane stalk and let the leaves lie fallow in the field, decomposing naturally. In so doing, the farmers help restore nutrients to the soil, reduce erosion and prevent unwelcomed weeds from taking hold.

In conventional cane harvesting operations, the fields are burned before harvesting to make it easier for the fossil-fuel burning harvesting machines to plow through the fields. The fires, often covering vast acreages, burn the canes' leaves, contribute to air pollution and remove wildlife cover in the process.

What is the shelf life of sugar?
Sugar is exempt under the shelf-life regulations because it is a natural preservative. Kept in a sealed package it will not deteriorate over time at ambient temperatures in normal circumstances.

Is Raw Cane Sugar really raw?
'Raw Cane Sugar' is a term that has existed for over 200 years. Wholesome's sugars of all types only undergo minimum physical processing without the use of any chemicals or additives. They are carefully produced at origin in the sugar mills themselves under strict food hygiene conditions. We call them unrefined in the UK on this basis and have won several court cases for the right to do that. The name "Raw Cane Sugar" is normally specifically reserved for describing Demerara sugar. Demerara sugar is a classic coffee sweetener that has been produced for hundreds of years (the original product-type was grown and produced in Guyana on the Demerara river and that is where the name evolved ). Wholesome's Organic Turbinado Sugar and Fair Trade Raw Cane sugars are classic Demerara-style sugars with distinctive large crystals, a golden brown color and crunchy texture. These have been has been called Raw Cane Sugars for at least two centuries because of the physical processing, nature and appearance of the sugar. The maximum processing temperature for any of the organic crystalline sugars would be around 120º Centigrade.

How much organic sugar cane grows on a hectare?
It varies. There are many factors that go into calculating the per hectare yield of organically grown sugar cane. The weather, the soil conditions and the "seed stock" all play a part. In general, organic yields are less per hectare than conventionally grown, where production is manipulated, if you will, by the application of herbicides, pesticides, defoliants.

On average, a single acre hectare can produce about 90 metric tons of organic cane or 9 metric tons of organic sugar. (A "metric ton" is an industrial description for sugar weight; a metric ton weighs about 2205 pounds).

In 2001, Wholesome Sweeteners' first year of operation under the Billington's/Imperial Sugar partnership, we bought 3,000 metric tons of organic sugar from Paraguayan farmers. In 2010, Wholesome bought nearly 40,000 metric tons of organic sugar from Paraguay. More than an increase in sugar demand and production, these numbers reflect a more than 10-fold increase in organic cane cultivation in Paraguay alone--from 445 hectares to 4445 hectares.

What pests infest cane?
While many critters don't bother with cane at all, those that do include the a variety of beetles and borers, leaf cutting ants, spittlebugs and termites.

What's the difference between Sucanat and sugar?
Some say that sugar is sugar...and while that may be true in general--sugar is sucrose, after all--sugar's true character is as faceted as the crystals with which we sweeten our world. There are many different types of sugar and at Wholesome Sweeteners, we work to keep the richness and character of sugar cane in all of our sugars.
As a general rule, Wholesome Sweetener's sugars are made as close to the cane field as possible. Within hours of harvesting, raw cane stalks are crushed in a series of large roller mills, which squeezes the juice from the cane. The collected juice is then cleaned (with slaked lime which settles any unwanted organic materials) and thickened into syrup. Sucanat is Dehydrated cane juice; Organic Sugar and other crystallized sugars are Evaporated cane juice.

To produce Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sucanat (SUgar CAne NATural), cane syrup is poured into a vat and hand-paddled to add air. The paddling causes the hot, thick syrup to release heat and start to dry. As it dries, porous granules form which retain 100% of the cane's molasses, a source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and chromium. (Sucanat is about 13% molasses.) Sucanat dissolves quickly and adds a lovely rich flavor to everything from baked goods to a cup of tea or coffee. Sprinkle a few granules on your tongue. Can you feel the soft texture? Notice how quickly it dissolves into just wonderful flavor.

Organic sugar (sucrose) begins the same way Sucanat does, but rather than drying the syrup, the syrup is "seeded" to create crystals. Once large crystals have formed, the crystals and remaining liquid are spun in a centrifuge to separate one from the other and encourage evaporation. The crystals get a final dry with hot air before being stored and dispatched.

In contrast to Sucanat, sugar retains just the merest hint of the cane juice's original molasses; most of the molasses coats the outside of the crystal giving it natural color and flavor. If you look at crystallized sugars, you can learn to read the amount of molasses in each--the darker the sugar, the more molasses. Crystallized sugars are much lighter in color and flavor and better for more sensitive applications where a molasses flavor is undesirable.

Wholesome Sweeteners organic sugars are processed without bleaching agents or bone char and are vegan safe and kosher certified.

Is molasses really that good for us?
Molasses, the natural by-product of cane sugar, is one of those foods that our grandmothers and their mothers loved--not necessarily for its flavor, but for the benefits it brought to our bodies. In the days before multi-vitamins, molasses was treasured for its nutritional values.

High concentration of minerals:

  • Iron: Iron carries oxygen from our lungs to our tissues in the form of hemoglobin. (Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells). Iron also makes up part of many proteins in the body and facilitates enzyme reactions in various tissues.
  • Potassium: Potassium helps our bodies metabolize carbohydrates and synthesize protein from amino acids. It's essential for the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs, and it's necessary for the building of muscle and for normal body growth.
  • Calcium: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, has several important functions. Calcium is needed for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and sending messages through the nervous system. A constant level of calcium is maintained in body fluid and tissues so that these vital body processes function efficiently. More than 99% of total body calcium is stored in the bones and teeth where it functions to support their structure, the remaining 1% is found throughout the body in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells.

And B Vitamins:

  • Thiamin (B1): Thiamine helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy and is essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system.
  • Riboflavin (B2): Riboflavin is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates.
  • Niacin (B3): Niacin helps the digestive system, skin, and nerves. It is also important for the conversion of food to energy.
  • B6: Vitamin B6 helps the immune system produce antibodies that help fight many diseases. Vitamin B6 helps maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells. The body uses it to help break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
  • Folate (B9): Folic acid works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body break down, use, and create new proteins. The vitamin helps form red blood cells and helps produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information. Folic acid also helps tissues grow and cells work. Taking the right amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy helps prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida.

And finally, traces of …

  • Chromium: Chromium is important in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Chromium stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are important for brain function and other body processes. It activates several enzymes, which are needed to drive numerous chemical reactions necessary to life. Chromium is also important in insulin metabolism.
  • Zinc: Zinc is needed for the body's defensive system to properly work. It plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and the break down of carbohydrates. Zinc is also needed for the senses of smell and taste.
  • Copper: Copper, along with iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy.

What about the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Loads of Organic Blue Agave and sugar?
The Glycemic Load (GL) provides a structure for ranking a food portion's carbohydrate content based on the portion size and the food's Glycemic Index (GI). The GL is perhaps a more useful measure of a food's glycemic impact than the GI. One of the problems with the GI is that it's quantitative rather than qualitative. A single piece of hard candy, even though the candy ranks high on the GI, will have little effect on our blood sugar.

The GI values are determined experimentally, by feeding a very small test group (generally just 10 individuals) a fixed portion of the food and measuring their blood sugar response at specific intervals of time. Individual responses vary widely, as do processing and preparation methods. In the case of organic foods, because the products are not refined, a fixed GI is even more challenging to determine. Because of this, glycemic indexes are often described as a range, as in "<39". It's inexact and very general. Low GI foods have a rating of less than 55, while medium GI foods are 56-69 and high have a rating of 70 or more. When counting Glycemic Loads, less than 10 is low, 11 to 19 is medium and 20 or more is high.

Their glycemic responses are determined by both the type of carbohydrate and the amount consumed. By calculating the GI and the net carbs (the total carbs minus dietary fiber), you can calculate the Glycemic Load: GL=GI/100 x Net Carbs. Given this, with a GI of 39 or less and net carbs per tablespoon of 16, the Glycemic Load of Organic Blue Agave is 6.24 (.39x16).

Compare the Glycemic Indexes and Loads of other foods we know and love:

As you can see, some foods, in spite of their high GI, have a low glycemic impact on our systems when a regular serving is enjoyed; similarly, a low GI food high in carbs can have a higher overall glycemic impact on our bodies. As with all things, moderation is a very good plan.

Are Wholesome Sweeteners products appropriate for someone who has candida?
While our sweeteners are appropriate for so many people, we're sorry to report that our products are not suitable for persons being treated for candida or other yeast-related conditions. Candida feeds on sugar and sugar alcohols (meaning these should also be avoided).

Are Wholesome Sweeteners products good for someone with cancer?
Because conditions vary from patient to patient, we respectfully defer to a patient's physician, nutritionalist or treatment team for advice on consuming sweeteners of any kind.

Is Organic Zero approved by the FDA?
Yes it is. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its own set of rules and standards by which it approves foods for use as food ingredients or additives. GRAS is a term which stands for "generally regarded as safe." In 2001, the FDA ruled that Erythritol was "GRAS"--generally recognized as safe based on a daily intake of 1 gram per every 1 kilogram of weight (or approximately one teaspoon for every 11 pounds of weight).

What are sugar cane's growing cycles?
Sugar cane is a seasonal crop. In Paraguay, cane is generally planted between May (as the southern hemisphere's winter begins) and November (when summer starts and with it comes the rainy season). Cane can be harvested 12 months after cultivation and most cane fields yield productive havests for five years after the original planting. After that, the crops are rotated for a year or two to restore the soil conditions.

Are Wholesome Sweeteners products gluten-free?
Wholesome Sweeteners and Billington's products are indeed gluten-free.

What is milk of lime (slaked lime or Calcium hydroxide) and why is it used in processing sugar?
Sugar cane juice is highly acidic and the pH has to be neutralized in order for a successful crystallization of the cane juice to make organic sugar. Milk of Lime, from a limestone source (Calcium Hydroxide), is the only approved processing aid allowed in the production of organic sugar. It has been approved by the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) and is detailed on the permitted substance list of the USDA NOP.

Are sugars, honeys and blue agave nectars acidic or alkaline?
They are all mildly acidic.

Do you test the Blue Agave nectar to assure its quality?
Wholesome Sweeteners sources Blue Agave from Mexico's best suppliers. And we require the most rigorous testing in the market. They must analyze and record data on every single batch. The fructose/glucose ratio is monitored daily to assure that our standards are met. Once in the US, the process is repeated to assure that the product sold to consumers is indeed as certified. Any additions or substitutions would immediately show up in the lab analyses. In addition, Quality Assurance International inspects all of our processing and storage facilities here in the US and in Mexico to assure that our products meet and exceed USDA Organic Standards, which include the prohibition of genetically modified plants materials in products (genetically modified corn has been the basis of HFCS for years). If it's USDA Organic, it can't have HFCS in it.

Is Blue Agave a diet food? Can I eat as much Blue Agave as I want?
It's a simple, succulent sweetener. And as with any sweetener, moderation is critical. Because it's primarily fructose, a little blue agave nectar goes a long way; remember, fructose is 25% sweeter than sugar so you don't need as much to attain sugar's sweetness. It's a slowly-metabolizing sweetener, which means that it won't spike your blood sugar. A recommended serving size of blue agave is just 1 tablespoon (21g), at 60 calories per serving.

Is Organic Blue Agave nectar safe a safe option during pregnancy?
Members of the Agave family, which comprises about 200 species, have been used by indigenous people in central Mexico for centuries. The plant has been used for everything from syrups and beverages to ropes, fence posts and shoes. They have used the "pina" or core of the Agave tequilana species or the Agave salmiana species to provide sweet nectars and also to produced tequila and mescal.

Other species of Agave (Agave americana and Agave sisalana; both widely used landscape plants in the southwestern states) have been reported to have been used as low-grade contraceptives.

It's perhaps helpful to consider the nightshade family as a point of conversation. Nightshade include species that give us peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, which are perfectly delicious and safe foods; it also includes belladonna (a natural abortive, migraine cure and source of nicotine and other toxins). The Agave family is similarly varied. Species-specific Agave tequilana is widely used to produce Tequila and delicious Blue Agave nectar, while other agaves species are more useful in front yards and should never be eaten.

Most importantly, they suggest that every woman carefully consider her choices, and speak candidly with her doctor and nutritionist when using sweeteners of any kind during pregnancy.

What are the benefits of Fair Trade Organic Honey?
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic Honey is collected by Fair Trade Certified Beekeeper Cooperatives in Southern Mexico (Chiapas and the Yucatan). Wholesome pays a fair price so beekeepers can keep their land, send their kids to school, build thriving communities and continue their traditions.

What makes honey organic?
The hives are isolated deep within organic perimeters. Bees forage only on native wildflowers within a 4-mile radius from their hive. They are many miles from possible contaminants such as herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified (GMO)plants.

By protecting the hives and forage areas, Fair Trade encourages biodiversity and helps the forests thrive, too. RAW Honey is honey straight from the hive. Though it's filtered and creamed, it's never heated above ambient temperature. It has a smooth, spreadable texture, and many natural benefits...

  • Catalase enzymes which help the body fight free radicals.
  • Flavanoids which help the body attack allergens, viruses, and carcinogens. (Many believe that eating honey from local sources or honey made by bees browing similar plant species can help relieve plant-based allergies.)
  • Vitamins and minerals including traces of riboflavin(B12), niacin(B3), pantothenic acid(B5), vitamin B6, folate(B9), vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc.
  • And antibacterial properties that soothe and help heal burns, abrasions and other skin conditions when used as a topical treatment. (Honey contains natural hydrogen peroxide. Many people keep a jar in the medicine cabinet as well as the kitchen!)

What's new about Wholesome Sweeteners Light Corn Syrup?
The recent change in the look of the Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Light Corn Syrup (with organic vanilla flavor) does not indicate a change in the contents of the bottle. The corn syrup is derived from starch produced from organic non-genetically modified corn. The corn variety used is yellow dent grown in Austria. The process of producing the syrup breaks the larger carbohydrates into its smaller monosaccharide components. The reason for listing Organic Corn Syrup and Organic Glucose Syrup on the ingredient declaration is due to the blending of two different corn-based syrups to ensure smooth consistency and taste.

Why is there vanilla flavoring in the Organic Corn Syrup?
It's easy! In taste tests, consumers preferred it! Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Light Corn Syrup with organic vanilla perfectly kicks up the traditional corn syrup recipe. Its delicious flavor, smooth texture, and consistent performance in corn syrup recipes make Wholesome's Corn Syrup a perfect organic option for home cooks. Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Light Corn Syrup is the only organic alternative to GMO-based, highly processed, synthetic corn syrups in the market. (It is not a high-fructose corn syrup.)

Hecho En Mexico: Organic Blue Agave Nectar Production & Processing
A visit to the Organic Blue Agave fields and processing facilities in Jalisco, Mexico...

Agave vs HFCS: Facts vs Fiction
Customers often ask about Organic Blue Agave and its relationship to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). They'd like to assure you that while they both contain common sugars (in the same way that honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup contain common sugars), there is no connection between Wholesome Sweeteners' Blue Agave syrups and HFCS.

  • They believe that too much of anything is bad for you, including sweeteners.
  • They believe that moderation is key to a balanced diet and a balanced diet is a healthy diet.
  • They believe that organic and sustainably grown foods are best for our planet and people.
  • They believe that informed and intelligent consumers will make good choices.
  • They believe that independently verifiable facts from reliable sources are essential to the decision-making process.

Wholesome Sweeteners' delicious sweeteners are made to USDA Organic Standards (which means no pesticides, no fungicides, no genetically modified ingredients, and no high fructose corn syrup). Wholesome considers the planet and people when producing products; we do not expose local environments or communities to harmful agricultural practices.

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agaves
Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agaves are made from the juices of the Blue Agave, Agave tequilana var. Weber, a plant widely cultivated in Central Mexico. It's delicious.

  • Wholesome sources certified organic blue agave nectar from high quality producers to ensure continuous supply and quality.
  • Wholesome's Quality Control team inspects each facility to be sure that our high standards for farming and processing standards are maintained. Our production is also certified by independent third parties.
  • These quality controls assure consumers that they are indeed purchasing the finest Organic Blue Agave nectar on the market.

Making Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agaves

In the field:
After growing for 5 to 7 years, a mature blue agave stands 6 to 8 feet tall and its carbohydrates, or "sugars," are at their peak. The blue agave stores carbohydrates in the plant's core or pina (so-called because it resembles a pineapple after the leaves have been trimmed away). Farmers hand-harvest blue agave with a simple razor-sharp blade, leave the field trimmings behind to restore the soil and reduce erosion, and take the pinas to the mill for crushing.

At the mill:
Once at the mill, the blue agave pina is crushed and its carbohydrate- and inulin-rich juice is collected. Inulin is a difficult-to-digest plant fiber, so to make it digestible, it must be changed into something our bodies can comfortably manage--in this case, fructose and glucose. Because Wholesome holds to USDA Organic Standards, we use a relatively simple method to change the agave from a plant fiber to a sweetener:

  • In a process called "thermal hydrolysis," the agave juice is exposed to different levels of heat. It is simply the application of heat to convert the inulin into a natural combination of the common sugars fructose and glucose. (We do the same thing when we reduce a sauce.)
  • Wholesome's Organic (Light) Blue Agave is heated quickly to a high temperature, then cooled.
  • Raw Blue Agave is hydrolyzed at a much lower temperature for a much longer time.
  • After gentle heating, the juice is physically filtered to remove extraneous materials, lower the color and lessen the mineral content, as all these can affect the flavor profile. National Organic Program-approved diatomaceous earth is used as a filtering agent. (The raw syrup is minimally filtered so it maintains a rich amber color and richer flavor.
  • The filtered syrup is then cooled in sealed tanks using cold water pumped through spiral tubes.

Under the microscope:
Every batch of Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agave must pass lab tests at the mill, and before it is bottled. As produced, Wholesome's Blue Agave is 75% fructose, 20% glucose (also called dextrose), with small amounts of inulin and mannitol. (According to the Glycemic Index, a scientific standard used for measuring foods' effect on blood sugars, agaves' combination of sugars make them low glycemic sweeteners.)

Still, facts are facts: Fructose, like a number of other things, is metabolized in the liver where it's converted to fat (energy) and stored. According to The University of Southern California Liver Transplant Program: The liver is the largest organ in the body ... The liver performs more than 400 functions each day to keep the body healthy. Some of its major jobs include:

  • Converting food into nutrients the body can use (for example, the liver produces bile to help break down fats)
  • Storing fats, sugars, iron, and vitamins for later use by the body
  • Making the proteins needed for normal blood clotting
  • Removing or chemically changing drugs, alcohol, and other substances that may be harmful or toxic to the body

So it's vitally important to take good care of our bodies and our livers. Part of taking good care is eating a healthy diet. Agave is a sugar and, as recommended by nearly all agave suppliers, it is a discretionary sweetener. You, the individual consumer, get to decide how much you use. We recommend it in moderation.

Why Agave is NOT high fructose corn syrup
Agave syrup differs from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in that it taps the naturally occurring fructose available in the agave inulin rather than being a highly manufactured food ingredient made from genetically modified, or "GMO," corn syrup.

In the field, the corn is subjected to synthetic chemical applications to increase yields, reduce weeds and pests, and to make harvesting cheaper and easier. When harvested, the corn's carbohydrates are isolated and chemically manipulated to meet the specific needs of food processors and manufacturers

What is high fructose corn syrup? (HFCS) Corn syrups enriched with fructose are manufactured from syrups that have been treated to contain as much dextrose (glucose) as possible. Nearly all the glucose in these dextrose-rich corn syrups is transformed into fructose with enzymes. The fructose-enriched syrups are then blended with dextrose syrups. After blending, commercial fructose corn syrups contain either 42% or 55% fructose by weight. It is becoming more common to further process fructose-enriched corn syrups to increase fructose content. These enhanced fructose corn syrups contain at least 95% fructose by weight.

Like ingredient terms permitted for other sweeteners manufactured from starch, the descriptor "high fructose corn syrup" denotes more than one product. The generic term "high fructose corn syrup" or its acronym "HFCS" is used in food and beverage ingredient statements. Thus, the term "high fructose corn syrup" or "HFCS" represents a family of three fundamentally different products, not a unique single ingredient.

The vast majority of the high fructose corn syrup containing 55% fructose is used to sweeten carbonated soft drinks and other flavored beverages. Minor amounts are used in frozen dairy products. Essentially all foods listing "high fructose corn syrup" as an ingredient contain the syrup with 42% fructose. The 95% fructose corn syrup is becoming more common in beverages, canned fruits, confectionery products and dessert syrups.

HFCS is often the first or second ingredient on food labels, and the ingredients are listed according to relative quantity. Most soft drinks, bottled teas, fruit and vegetable juices are loaded with HFCS, so are most processed foods. Extend that to fast foods, restaurant foods, prepared and store-bought foods, convenience foods, doughnuts, cookies, prepared meats, sweet and savory sauces, salad dressings, crackers, canned soups, desserts, and so on and so forth. We shudder to think about the impacts of all that HFCS on people who only eat fast- or prepared- or pre-packaged foods.

The total agave production is actually very small; in 2009 it was less than 8,000 tons. A relatively insignificant number when compared with the 22-million ton total caloric sweetener market in the US per annum. (Approximately 45% is HFCS, 45% sugar cane/sugar beet and the remainder glucose, mostly from a corn source.)

The USDA estimates that in 2008, the per capita consumption of HFCS was nearly 38 lbs a year. That's an average of 38 pounds per person--big, little, old, young, those of us who eat fast foods and those of us who don't--it's 38 pounds for every one of us! In 1970, it was less than half a pound per capita.

(From an evolutionary standpoint, though fruit was seasonally abundant, until just a couple of centuries ago most people only had occasional tastes of sugars or honey; these days, diets of HFCS-rich foods have far exceeded our bodies' ability to efficiently metabolize it.)

Wholesome Sweeteners' specific concerns with HFCS are:

  • HFCS is too prevalent as an ingredient in processed foods. We have no idea how much is in any prepared or packaged food or drink, nor do we have any control over how much we're actually consuming when we eat convenience or prepared foods.
  • HFCS is made from genetically modified corn that's grown using synthetic chemicals. We believe these farming and refining practices are unsustainable and are detrimental to our soils, water, and air.

Why agave is more like honey or maple syrup
In the same way many of us enjoy the unique flavors and character that honeys or maple syrups bring to foods, many of us enjoy agave.

  • Like agave, honey and maple syrup are natural blends of fructose and glucose.
  • Like honey, agave syrup has just 20 calories per teaspoon. (Sugar has 15 calories per teaspoon.)
  • Like agave, maple sap is heated for extended periods before we pour it over pancakes.
  • Like honey and maple syrup, agave syrup is delightful discretionary sweetener when used in moderation (because fructose is sweeter than sugar to most palates, a little agave sweetens a lot).

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave Syrup is not a diet product. It's a delicious natural sweetener. While Blue Agave nectars are indeed low glycemic and, as such, may be suitable for those persons watching their blood sugar, people with diabetes and other metabolic concerns (including pregnant women) should consult their doctor or treatment team for dietary advice.

In conclusion, many consumers and quality food manufacturers find organic blue agave syrup to be an excellent natural and organic sugar alternative. However, it should be enjoyed like any similar product, in moderation, and as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle that includes regular exercise.

Fairtrade & Social Responsibility
Wholesome Sweeteners holds fast to a "Fair Trade, Not Aid" philosophy. Wholesome pioneered Fairtrade certification for sweeteners and in so doing, fostered ever-widening agricultural and community development programs while providing stable economic resources for our cooperative partners in developing countries. They have created a viable economic incentive to protect communities, traditions and the environment. This means that farmers can compete against factory farms, keep their land (and buy more), send their kids to school, develop the quality of their crops and build community resources.

Fairtrade Certified is their guarantee that they pay the farmers a set premium for their crops. The money is wired directly from their accounts to the cooperatives' accounts in Costa Rica, Malawi, Mexico and Paraguay.

Since the last quarter of 2005, when Wholesome Fairtrade Certified the granulated sugar line, they have paid more than $7.5 million in social premiums to their cooperative partners (the social premium is paid above and beyond the market price paid for the sugar).

Fairtrade Certified means:

  • Farmers receive a fair price: Democratically organized farmer groups (called cooperatives) receive a guaranteed minimum price and an additional social premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
  • Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
  • Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
  • Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.
  • Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.
  • Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers' health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.

Who plays...and how?

  • The Farmers & Cooperatives agree to grow crops and produce goods in keeping with specific social and environmental standards.
  • Fairtrade International & Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International, 3rd party certifiers make sure that agreements made are kept-by all parties. TransFair also offers programs to cooperatives that help them develop business acumen and promotes the Fair Trade message in the US.
  • Importers (including Wholesome Sweeteners) pay the farmers cooperatives directly according to prices set through international agreements.
  • Consumers who now more than ever express their social and environmental values by supporting the farmers and companies responsible for bringing Fair Trade Certified products into the market.

Look for the Fairtrade Certified logo

It's the only independent, third-party consumer guarantee that companies have complied with strict, audited economic, social and environmental criteria for particular products, and are creating a more equitable and sustainable trade system for producers.

Social Benefits of Fair Trade

Fair Trade Certified cooperative members are generally very small producers managing their farm with their own and their family's labor-force. Their farming operations are small, but solid. They just need a little help moving into the global marketplace. Fair Trade provides opportunities for the social and economical development of ALL of the members. Each person has a voice in the cooperative's investments and programs. When consumers see a product with the Fair Trade Certified label, they are guaranteed that farmers received a fair price and all of the other benefits of the fair trade system.

Organic & Natural: Our Environmental Responsibility

Wholesome Sweeteners' Green Rule
Wholesome Sweeteners' ethos is shaped by a deep concern for the long-term health of the planet and all of its inhabitants. They believe in sustainability, traditionally made artisanal products and a very light footprint. It's a big job, but they're making progress.

They strongly believe in the importance of sustainable and organic agriculture; not only to provide the best-tasting, highest quality sugars but also to encourage a safe and beautiful future for the planet.

  • They ensure that all their employees and those of their suppliers are fairly remunerated against industry norms. They also ensure that their suppliers' employees/farmers have access to welfare and social programs that include healthcare, education and self-determination.
  • Protection of Children: They will not employ children nor will they knowingly permit their suppliers to employ children in the harvesting, processing or production of any of the products they buy from them.

They use traditional methods...

  • From the seed stock to harvest, their sugar cane is cultivated by hand and grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides
  • Wherever possible, they work with Fair Trade Certified farmers cooperatives
  • At the small mills, their products are made simply and the spent sugar cane or blue agave remnants, called bagasse, are recycled as fuel to generate electricity for the mill and nearby villages.

Where do they source their sugar cane?
Wholesome Sweeteners sources high quality sugar from partner mills and farmer co-operatives around the world. Much of their Organic Sugar comes from South America, particularly Paraguay and Brazil.

In Paraguay, they have been proud to work with their partner Mill Azucarera Paraguaya's for the last 11 years. The mission is to provide an excellent product, in an ethical manner, while keeping the environmental impact to a minimum.

  • The Mill produces 20% of the sugar cane required and the rest is purchased from co-operatives of family farmers. As demand for Organic Sugar has continues to increase more and more local farmers are receiving training and help from AZPA to convert to organic farming practices.
  • The growers all receive the same remuneration per tonne of sugar cane and are guarantee payment within 15 days. The majority of the farms in Paraguay are smaller scale sugar farms generally ranging from 0.5 - 30 hectares.
  • Schools are provided to all employees, all agricultural workers and their families. The curriculum includes English lessons and computer studies held in the recently added computer suite. The children are strongly encouraged to participate in the Junior Achievement Programs.
  • Healthcare including doctors and medication, are provided free for all employees and farmers.
  • Housing. Mill workers and employees with over five years of service are awarded a plot of land and an interest-free loan to build upon it. Water, Electricity and Sewage are all provided.
  • The Paraguayan Farmer Co-Operatives have used the additional income received from growing an organic crop to purchase tractors, which are shared by the community, to establish a broadband radio station so they can communicate, improve schools and health care and develop their land and crops.
  • Wholesome Sweeteners also provides interest free loans to the sugar cane farmer co-operatives. In Paraguay the farmers have used this resource to purchase trucks so they can transport their cane harvest more easily and faster to the Mill. Once sugar cane has been cut it has to be crushed at the Mill within 24 hours to prevent the sugar from spoiling.

Information on Sugar Cane
Like many grasses, organic sugar cane is one of nature's best photosynthesizes, converting up to 2% of the sunlight it receives into carbohydrates, or sugars. The cane looks like bamboo, and every year farmers reserve ten percent of each harvest for replanting. The cane is cut into foot-long batons, and the sugar cane stalks are planted in a shallow trench. The cane is sprinkled with chicken manure and other organic fertilizers and covered in topsoil.

The weeding for organic sugar cane is all completed by hand, which is very labor-intensive but an important part of the production process. Sugar cane's growing cycle varies from place to place; it generally takes from nine to 12 months for cane to mature. It grows to over 8 feet tall and then it is hand harvested with machetes. The leaves are sliced off in the field and left where they fell. They protect the topsoil; provide a natural weed suppressant and an important source of nutrients that slowly leach back into the soil.

The sugar cane crop is often rotated every three years with nitrogen-fixing vegetables such as beans. Crop rotation allows the soil "to rest," helps replace the nitrogen that is lost from the soil, and provides a field in which farmers can grow a variety of vegetables for their family and community.

What happens after organic sugar cane is cut?
When the sugar cane is harvested, farmers have to get it to the mill within 24 hours or the sugars in the cane will start to spoil. Many co-ops have invested their organic premiums in new trucks to ensure the valuable crop gets to the mill in prime condition. The Mill in Paraguay is on average 3 hours away from the fields, so it is important to have reliable transport or an entire daily harvest could be lost.

At the mill, cane is crushed to extract its sweet, nutrient rich juice. The juice is collected and water, distilled from a nearby river, is added to make a sweet syrup. The syrup is clarified with slaked lime to remove any impurities, then concentrated through heat, and crystallized to produce organic evaporated cane juice (granulated sugar). Organic evaporated cane juice is a first crystallization sugar. This means that it is very minimally processed, has a warm golden color, and contains small amounts of the cane's molasses in and around the sugar crystal.

Are fossil fuels used in organic sugar cane production?
Organic Sugar Cane production is completely Green in the true sense of the word! Absolutely no fossil fuels are used to produce organic sugars. The sugar cane arrives at the mill, where it is crushed and the juice is squeezed out. The spent cane is called bagasse. Bagasse is the fibrous material that is left after all the juice has been squeezed out of the cane. It is used as the fuel for furnaces that generates all the electricity required to run the mills. In fact, at many locations, the mill generates enough electricity for the surrounding villages as well.

What are some of the key benefits of organic sugar cane?
Farmers grow organic sugar cane without the use of herbicides or pesticides, which means that neither they nor the land are subjected to these toxins. Weeding is done completely by hand, which creates local employment and enables farmers to secure a premium price for their certified organic cane. The community as a whole benefits. For example, in Paraguay, the community has invested in orange and grapefruit trees and in land for the orchard. The citrus trees are intercropped with other trees to promote biodiversity, and community members now have fresh fruit to eat at home and sell at the market.

Compared to traditional cane sugar the practices are starkly different. In Paraguay each hectare (two acres) of conventional sugar cane uses 350kgs (about 800 lbs) of Synthetic Fertilizer (Nitrogen-Based) and 1 liter of a Chemical Herbicide Concentrate, which is diluted for weed control each crop year. Organic Cane Farming per hectare uses about 1.5 Metric Tonnes of Chicken Manure and all weeding is done by hand.

Wholesome Sweeteners Approach
Wholesome Sweeteners buys organic cane from independently certified farmers in Brazil, Costa Rica, Malawi and Paraguay. They guarantee that their organically certified sugars, syrups and nectars are cultivated without herbicides and pesticides. Rather than spread chemicals or burn the fields, Wholesome Sweeteners' farmers let nature support the crop's cultivation. Recycled chicken feed is used as occasional fertilizer. The cane's trimmed leaves and stalks are left in the fields, providing cover and forage for wildlife, then decomposing naturally, returning important nutrients to the soil, helping retain moisture and acting as a natural form of weed control.

Consumer support of organic sugar products has had a significant impact on the way farmers grow their cane: Between 2001 and 2007, there was a 10-fold increase in land dedicated to organic cane cultivation in Paraguay alone--from 10,000 acres to nearly 100,000 acres. And as more and more farmers convert to organic cultivation, they're joining Fair Trade Cooperatives as well.

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade programs help small sugar farmers earn more so they can pay for organic certification and training in sustainable agriculture techniques as well as converting land to organic cultivation. Paraguay and Costa Rica grow organic Fair Trade Certified sugar cane.

Fostering Sustainability
Although the investment of Fair Trade premiums is determined by the co-op members themselves, far from any influence by Wholesome Sweeteners, they're happy to report that the co-ops are developing an ever-increasing number of environmentally oriented programs.

  • In Malawi, women and children no longer have to walk miles from the village to the river to collect water; the Fair Trade premiums have been invested in a centrally located water well that beings safe water into the village. The farmers are replanting and improving the cane crop, as well as other traditional food crops.
  • In Costa Rica on Fair Trade Certified and organic farms, reforestation projects have brought diversity back to ecosystems and the farmers have invested in improved organic furnaces that burn the crushed cane (called bagasse) after the cane juice has been collected.
  • In Paraguay, the co-op has invested Fair Trade Certified premiums in orange and grapefruit trees and land for a small orchard. The citrus trees are intercropped with other trees to promote biodiversity, and the members have fresh fruit to eat at home and sell at the market. And as the traditional keepers of cures, the women of the coop have planted and tend a medicinal garden. It's a great opportunity to begin teaching the next generation about sustainability and stewardship.

Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic Honeys

  • In Mexico, the Fair Trade Certified beekeeper cooperatives tend hives deep in designated organic agricultural zones. The Fair Trade programs add a value to protecting habitat--it means the beekeepers can develop the quality of the hives and forage areas and build thriving communities. By protecting the hives and forage areas, Fair Trade encourages biodiversity and helps the forests thrive, too.
  • Wholesome's Fair Trade Certified Organic Honey beekeeper cooperatives recycle beeswax collected as part of the honey harvest to help bees build new combs in their hives.

About Wholesome Sweeteners, Inc.
Wholesome Sweeteners, formed in 2001, is the nation's leading provider of sustainable, environmentally and ethically responsible, great tasting sweeteners in the USA. The sweeteners are Organic, Fairtrade Certified, Non-GMO Verified, highest quality sugars, syrups, and honeys, all made from nature's best resources.

Wholesome Sweeteners pioneered the certification process for Fairtrade Certified sugar and honey in the USA in 2005 and 2008 respectively. The Fairtrade Certification guarantees farmers receive a fair price for their crops plus an additional premium payment that is democratically used to benefit the community. Wholesome Sweeteners has paid more than $8.5 million in social premiums to benefit our Fairtrade partners, farming and beekeeping cooperatives in the developing world.

The Company has grown to become a recognized leader in socially and environmentally responsible business practices and products. Over 60 new products have been developed during the last 10 years and they are the first choice for many notable chefs and consumer good-food advocates alike. Wholesome Sweeteners is the leading brand of organic sweeteners in grocery stores and the leading supplier of organic sweeteners to food companies as an ingredient.

In March of 2012, Arlon Group, a private equity firm based in New York, focused on food and agriculture, in partnership with Wholesome Sweeteners management and Edward Billington & Son, acquired a significant stake in Wholesome Sweeteners. Arlon led the buyout of Wholesome Sweeteners alongside Billington, Wholesome Sweeteners' management and several other investors. Imperial Sugar Company sold all shares to the investor parties. Billington's continuing involvement, along with the retention and increased ownership stake of Wholesome Sweeteners management, guarantees continuity of the consumer focused philosophy and entrepreneurial culture.

Arlon Group invests in middle market companies across all stages of the food and agriculture supply chain, including production, processing, distribution, food service and retail. It seeks to achieve attractive long-term returns by combining its well-developed investment process in the food and agriculture sectors with the strategic insight of an experienced industry participant. Arlon Group believes that its long-term perspective, food sector expertise, and commitment to partnering with management teams make it a strong partner to food businesses that are pursuing stable growth.

Edward Billington's & Son's is a diverse, international foods and agriculture group. It is one of Britain's largest, privately owned family businesses, recognized for quality, service and innovation. Established in 1858, it has more than 150 years of knowledge and experience in organic and all-natural farming and extensive expertise in sourcing the finest quality sugars across the globe. In 1992, Billington's was the first company in the world to bring a certified organic sugar to market.

With new ownership, Wholesome Sweeteners will continue to remain focused on providing their customers with the highest quality, most ethically sourced and fairly traded sustainable sweeteners.

Wholesome Sweeteners' Mission

  • To supply only the finest organic and natural sugar products from ethically and environmentally responsible growers and manufacturers;
  • To provide consumers with the choice of safe, flavorful, organic and natural sugars that are produced with respect for the environment, human welfare, food safety and the health and nutritional needs of consumers' families;
  • To be the premier supplier of added-value natural and organic sweeteners to retail, foodservice and industrial food manufacturing markets of North America.

Suggested Use

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All honey crystalizes, place bottle in warm water to liquify.


Wholesome Sweeteners - Fair Trade Certified Organic Raw Honey - 16 oz.
Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon (21g)
Servings Per Container: 22
Amount Per Serving
Calories 60
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 g
Total Carbohydrate 17 g
Sugars 16 g
Proteins 0 g
*Daily Value Not Established.
†Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your diet values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients: Organic Fair Trade Honey

 

Average Rating

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Recommendation

100%1 out of 1 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Bought this product? write a review

By Mistique (Tupelo , MS )

I absolutely love this honey. I use it only for my tea that order from this site also the throat coat tea. I am a singer and this helps restore my vocal cords. It helps to sooth my vocal cords. The honey is not too sweet and it just right for a cup of tea. It has an amazing taste. This is a must have. I am so glad that I can order it from this site now. Thanks LuckyVitamin!!

I RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT!
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by contributors of the product reviews are their own and not necessarily those of LuckyVitamin.com. LuckyVitamin.com does not endorse or imply any medical claims from these reviews. These reviews should not be taken as recommendations but rather customer opinions of the products that they may or may not have used. Reviews are not intended as a substitute for appropriate medical care or advice and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Read the full product reviews disclaimer here.

Manufacturer Info

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8016 Highway 90-A
Sugar Land, TX,
Phone: (800) 680-1896 Fax: (281) 275-3170 Visit website

About Wholesome Sweeteners

Wholesome Sweeteners, formed in 2001, is the nation’s leading provider of sustainable, environmentally and ethically responsible, great tasting sweeteners. They specialize in supplying Organic, Fairtrade Certified, Non-GMO Verified sugars, syrups, and honeys, all made from nature’s best resources. Wholesome Sweeteners, headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas, employs almost fifty people and sources sweeteners in seven countries around the globe.

Wholesome Sweeteners pioneered the Fairtrade certification process for sugar and honey in North America. Since launching the first Fairtrade sugar and honey in America in 2005 and 2008 respectively, Wholesome Sweeteners has paid more than $8.5 million in social premiums to benefit Fairtrade partners, farming and beekeeping cooperatives in the developing world. We thank you for purchasing Wholesome Sweeteners products. Together, with your help, we are making the world a sweeter place!

*The products and the claims made about specific products on or through this site have not been evaluated by LuckyVitamin.com or the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

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