Saturday, January 22, 2011

San Francisco Fancy Food Show: Sweetleaf Stevia

This year, not only were there so many really nice vendors, but there were a lot of great products. Instead of doing a product roundup all in one post, I thought it might be nice to showcase my favorites in a series of posts.

So, I'll start with Sweetleaf. Sweetleaf is the name given to the Stevia sweetener that Wisdom Natural Brands produces. Their marketing people contacted me pre-show and asked if I would stop by their booth. I am always interested in safe ways to cut sugar/calories from my diet, so I took a minute to chat with Sweetleaf's founder, Jim May (pictured below). I was surprised to learn that Mr. May is actually the person who first brought Stevia to the United States!

After tasting stevia leaves given to him by a Peace Corps worker, May made it his mission to bring the extract from the plant to the United States. 

May immediately invested nearly all of his (and his wife’s) life savings to manufacture and market stevia leaf products and stevia extracts. Making his first trip to Paraguay a few weeks later, he wanted to learn everything he could about the native South American plant with the incredibly sweet leaves that had so impressed him.

The process involves taking the highest-quality leaves of the stevia plant and extracting their naturally sweet taste with only cool, purified water – no chemicals, solvents or additives that adulterate and cover up the great taste created by nature.

Because his company uses only water in their extraction or purification process, there is no waste whatsoever. The leaf residue becomes cattle feed or ground mulch, and the spent water is distributed to local farmers to irrigate their fields.

“Today’s wise consumers are looking for a high quality tabletop sweetener that has low calories and low carbohydrates to replace artificial sweeteners, while food and beverage producers are looking for a high intensity sweetener to replace aspartame, sucralose and high fructose corn syrup,” states May.

Wisdom Natural Brands, a leading U.S. manufacturer of stevia products, offers SweetLeaf Sweetener in convenient double-serving packets. SweetLeaf Sweetener is sold in boxes containing either 35 or 70 packets. Each packet replaces two teaspoons of sugar. Today, May is a leading expert on stevia and travels across the world promoting the benefits of the stevia plant.

For more information, visit

Facts about Sweetleaf Stevia:

  • SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener is a natural sweetener derived from the Stevia plant (an herb) native to Paraguay.
  • Extract from the stevia plant is 100%-natural, contains zero-calories, zero-carbohydrates, zero- alcohol, zero-chemicals and zero-glycemic index.
  • Because SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener contains zero carbs, zero calories, zero glycemic index and is 100% natural, it presents a natural solution to combating childhood obesity.
  • SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener’s proprietary process involves taking the highest-quality leaves of the stevia plant and extracting its naturally sweet taste with purified water – no chemicals, solvents or additives that adulterate and cover up the great taste. SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener is the only stevia based sweetener to use this extraction process.
  • SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener contains no chemicals like sucralose or aspartame (found in other name-brand artificial sweeteners).
  • Stevia leaves are 30 times sweeter than sugar in their unprocessed form 
  • Pure glycosides that are extracted from the stevia leaves are 250 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. 
  • Jim May, founder of Wisdom Natural Brands, first became interested in the stevia plant as a sweetener in 1982 – but was not able to get it imported to the US (as a dietary supplement) until 1994 under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. 
  • In May 2008, following recognition by independent scientists, the FDA awarded SweetLeaf Stevia GRAS status (an FDA designation for substances determined to be safe in foods by competent scientific research) – SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener was introduced in the US market as a natural sweetener.
  • SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener is the first stevia sweetener to acquire GRAS status. 
Here's a link to some recipes you can make with Sweetleaf Stevia. One of my favorite products they make is the liquid drops (pictured below). It only takes 1-2 drops to sweeten a cup of coffee and they have some really delicious flavors.

You can follow Sweetleaf on twitter here, and "like" them on Facebook hereMore from the SF Fancy Food Show to come next week... including a post on Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman!! I got to meet him!! Wheeee....

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