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May 07, 2010

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Comments

Debbie Took

Such good news to see a company taking a principled stand against this. I hope other companies will take note.

Lorna

I've just bought myself a sweet cicely plant at the weekend. It's too young to eat yet, but it's supposed to be a good sweetener, without the bitter after taste of stevia. And it's live, raw etc

Dina

I mainly use yacon syrup and I think is great!

fiona

That's so great to know. Thank you for explaining so clearly. You may find that distributing that information has a positive effect on your bottom line as a company. I for one am now even more inclined to use you as my raw produce provider :-D

Brenda

Having had cancer it is important I avoid all sugars. Your article is helpful. I have never used agave syrup. Have you thought about stevia? Mind you, it isn't licenced here... so I suspect you won't be able to stock it.
Thank you.

Julie

Thanks for this very informative article. I do have reservations about the usage of the scientific points as so many of the faults in science and medicine come from isolating components and not viewing the whole.

This being said, the article has already changed the way I think about my raw recipes. I would really would love to know the thoughts of the Fresh Network on maple syrup as I know some raw foodists occasionally use this despite it being heated--myself, admittedly, included. (I've always tended toward honey, maple syrup and date paste.) If comparing HFCS, table sugar and agave; I think its only fair to beg the question of maple syrup's position. From sugar.org: "Maple syrup is the mixture of sugars formed when the sap of sugar maple trees is boiled down to a thick syrup. Maple sugar contains about 33% water and 60% sucrose. The remainder is a mixture of glucose, other sugars and minute traces of naturally present acids, minerals and some B-vitamins."

Where does sucrose stand in all of this, anyway? Does this liken maple syrup then to table sugar due to it being primarily sucrose? Also, seriously, why don't we bottle and sell maple sap instead of sugar? Its amazing. Mmm.

Please respond. I'd genuinely like to know if maple syrup is lumped with agave, HFCS and table sugar, or just slightly above those, but not really any good either.

Thanks!
Julie

Dr. Enid Taylor

Thank you for your honesty and frankness. this means we can trust you to offer for sale only those products that current knowledge supports to be good for us. I appreciate you updating your product range like this and I really admire your ethics. THANK YOU.
The Taymount Clinic for Digestive Health

Maya

I'm impressed with your integrity - hope other companies will follow.

There was always something "too good to be true" about agave!

Fresh dates are the best ... currently, Tescos are selling fresh, in season dates for £2.99 for 1 kilo. Great deal! I add a couple to my smoothies each day.

Evelyn_Parham

This is good information! I respect companies who stand keep the person in mind.

I've stopped using Agave and all processed sweeteners and I stick with dates, honey, and stevia, with dates being my very first choice.

Take care and glad to see you're leading the way!

Thankyou

Fine! And now you should stop selling raw chocolate, which is generally made from lots of “hydrolyzed high-fructose agave syrup”. BTW You should stop selling cacao too - can cause cancer, especially breast cancer in women.

Dot D.

I believe there are still some good Agave purchases out there. Go to www.Xagave.com/Xagavelab to read further. I know there is one other site, but cannot locage it just yet. Please don't believe all you read and hear until you experience the truth. Thanks.

Dot D.

Oh, yes and the other site is www.madhavasagave.com.

Dejana

Thanks for breaking the silence about agave in the UK. Curious to see what's gonna happen with all those raw chocolates...

The Fresh Network

Thanks for your comment, Julie. We did look into maple syrup in the course of this article, and agree that information is needed on this, as it is another very popular sweetener in the raw community, even though it isn't raw. We did not include maple syrup in the article as we feel we need to look into it more before making a statement on it. However, I can say that at this point it is looking like a healthier choice than agave, though not as good as dates or honey.

The Fresh Network

Thanks for your comments, "Thankyou" and Dejana : )

We did consider whether we should also stop selling all products containing agave, which includes certain brands of chocolate and a couple of nut butters. As we mentioned in the article, our position on agave is that it is a treat, not a health food, and something to consume in small quantities and occasionally.

So this is why we said in our guidelines that the number one most important thing is not to have it in your kitchen cupboard as the sweetener you add to your recipes. From talking to people, we know that many go through a bottle or more a week that way, and that is what we did not want to be a part of anymore.

The Fresh Network

Dot D, we agree that some agaves are better quality than others and we respect that others may draw different conclusions from ours.

However, in our opinion, for an agave to be as good a choice as dates or raw honey, it would have to:
(a) have a fructose content of less than 50%, and
(b) contain natural fructose rather than refined fructose.

To our knowledge, no agave syrup fulfills either (a) or (b). However, if anyone can show us evidence that contradicts any of what we've reported, we'll certainly look at it carefully.

susan bland

thanks for the information you made the right decision i will not be buying any more will be using dates and honey from now on.this only increases my trust in your company.

Thankyou

Regarding the other 'sweeteners' mentioned here:
Well... honey is not vegan! Its 'production' is cruel. Really.
And stevia is not safe: European scientists cite potential adverse side effects to the male reproductive system. When fed high doses of stevioside for nearly two years, sperm production in male rats was noticeably reduced and the weight of seminal vesciles declined. Likewise, when female hamsters were fed large amounts of a stevioside derivative called steviol, their offspring were found to be fewer and smaller. Furthermore steviol has successfully been converted into a mutagenic compound, which may promote cancer by causing genetic mutation of a cell’s DNA. Often stevia causes headaches.
For raw cakes, brownies and icecream I'm using bananas and sometimes dates - that's all.

Dawn Waterhouse

A big thank you for putting the truth first.

As a homeopath I have long stated that honey and dates are better than agave and syrup sweeteners. Both raw honey and dates are natural and contain nutrients to digest the sugars.

I have witnessed negative effects of agave.

Thankyou

One thing I forgot about stevia - curiously this book has disappeared: 'Contraceptive properties of Stevia regaudiana' by Planas, G.M. & Kue, G.M., Science, 1968

Rob

Great to hear your honesty, especially as you must sell lots of agave. Whilst I agree on you stopping selling, I also disagree. Let people make their choice what to buy - as long as they know the facts and the labelling is 100% correct -and those are the problems. For optimum health we should never eat anything that isn't raw but we are guided by others, by advertising and by whats on the labels, and then we make our own choices. Well done Fresh Network and may your honesty forever flow.

Jo Connelly

I am concerned that the article leaves out a very important figure. It refers to 'high fructose consumption', but does not state what this is. This is critical to the credibility of the article because if we do not know what is 'high consumption' we cannot make an informed decision.

Everything we eat can be taken in overdose, including water, so we need to know if the occasional spoonful of agave would be considered 'high consumption' and therefore dangerous, or if we have to be consuming a much larger amount before we are likely to be faced with problems.

Kate Travers

I've always wandered about the effectiveness of raw food spiked with such commodities as agave syrup!

I'm still somewhat confused about the sugar content of fruit and how much is healthy?

Jules

So basically, we have taken it on trust for the last few years. Agave is the answer. Who was telling us this? Every raw foodist retailer. Why should we believe anything else now? This is the problem with the raw food industry. It is not backed by science, so sellers can make all sorts of claims based on trust. And more fool me for passing on information about agave to everyone else.

Well done for discovering this and saying it. But it's a little late. Basically, anything that is mass produced is suspect. Especially raw chocolate makers.

Aimee

The best sweetner I have found is xylitol. It has zero impact on blood sugar levels, comes from a natural source and is being used more and more by well known raw foodists such as Kate Magic. It also has no impact on candida and has been approved for use in the UK and can widely be bought here.

The Fresh Network

Thanks for the question, Jo, regarding what is a safe consumption of fructose. We attempted to answer it in the article to the extent we feel it can be answered. We do realize it's vague, but it has to be as we have not seen research that enables us to apply specific quantities to that - which would, in any case, vary from person to person based on multiple variables such as weight, activity levels, numerous biochemical factors, and also the individual's specific health goals.

In this article Joseph Mercola takes a very strong line against agave and ALL forms of fructose, refined or natural.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/30/beware-of-the-agave-nectar-health-food.aspx

He puts 25g of fructose a day from ALL sources as the upper limit, and says that this is around one tablespoon of most agaves. That quantity, however, would be based on consuming NO other fructose and all fruits contain fructose (vegetables have much smaller amounts). So clearly, to the extent one is following Mercola's guidelines AND eating a healthy diet centred around fruits and vegetables, that would leave little if any room for concentrated sweeteners such as agave.

We consider Joseph Mercola a credible source of information - however we can't personally vouch for the accuracy of everything stated here, simply as we have not yet looked into it in detail. We include it here in case it is helpful to anyone. As stated in our article, it is our position that there is a huge distinction between the natural fructose in fruit and any form of refined fructose.

Harold Patel

Well this certainly opens a big debate

Harold Patel

Who is Kate magic?

This cannot be the girl who is running a company and claiming housing benefit, is it?

steve morley

so rats were forced to eat 'high' doses of stevia and their health suffered! I am sure that their health would also suffer if they were fed on nothing but high doses of fresh dates! The data from animal experiments can be manipulated to 'prove' anything you want it to prove. It would not surprise me at all if these experiments were funded by the sugar industry.

Aimee

Kate Magic is also known as Kate Wood and is one of the leading raw food promoters in the UK. You can find out more at her website rawliving.eu/

Thankyou

Xylitol seems like another artificial sweetener to me. How is it produced? Is this RAW food or WHOLE food? It probably comes from GMO cornfields from China! The only 'non-chocolate' I can recommend is Vanoffe [by The Raw Chocolate Company] - sweetened only by the natural sweetness of carob and made without cacao powder (only cacao butter is used!).

Martin Silverman

Great article and glad that the real dangers of Agave Nectar have finally been exposed. I use Stevia. As you say, it is not available in the UK but I get it from The Hippocrates Health Institue in Florida. Stevia is the ONLY sweetner that Hippocrates endorse and I find it invaluable in my raw food diet.

Lizzie

I was wondering if anyone knew whether this applies to Yacon syrup as well, which has a very low glycaemic index?

Greg Poulos

Hellooo, Great article,
Please could you give a word on maple syrup!
I assume it is boiled down but what is its makeup? Also is there a source of raw maple syrup and is it possible to buy it raw? What would it look, feel and taste like, anybody know?

Julia

Thanks for the interesting article. I had come to the conclusion that Agave syrup was not as healthy as first thought recently but your article explained all the reasons very well.
After looking into the alternatives I have thought that yacon syrup is probably one of the heathiest choices so would like to hear your thoughts on this?
Thanks,
Julia

Jill Swyers

Agave is something Dr Brian Clement spoke against very strongly last year!! Right from when agave first became known we had strong suspicions. Also he spoke against xylitol!!!!!!!!

As far as I was aware, stevia is in the process of becoming legal again in the UK - maybe - via the EU.

We use Stevita liquid - very good for the kitchen - so am hoping to see that product in the country once it is legal.Once one gets used to it, not so difficult to use.

With some of the stevia, the so-called powdered style - I have suspicions!! Powdered style, very easy to use too much because of the instant sugar taste!!!

Jill Swyers, Hippocrates Health Educator

Shola Arewa

Thanks for blowing the whistle. I'm not at all suprised, I had my suspicions about agave, it tastes just like sugar! Banana, dates and licorice are excellent nature intended sweeteners. Enjoy!

Michelle Doyle

Well done. As a diabetic I've been avoiding it as I worked out the truth of your article, just because I need a load of insulin post a food with agave in (say commercial raw chocolate) as I would have done if I'd had sugar (let's say a bar of galaxy).

With chocolate - if you want it, why not make it yourself, raw fooders. Personally I plonk in a big amount of mesquite or vanilla, or both, to give it a depth of sweetness.

Micah & Clare

Well, overall Yes! Indeed this has been something on our minds for some time, (since the research results became more widespread) as we eat a good deal of it.

Additionally, we're currently building a business selling raw chocolates and other treats, and it's of great consideration to us, as we don't want to dose anyone up with "health-taking" ingredients! We can't even feed dogs or cats cooked commercial foods, as we think we're killing them! ;-) Maybe that's overboard, but we love everyone, and want to do the best, and it can be frustrating when it's hard to fully know all the answers around all these different *New & * Ancient products, that haven't been apart of our culture for years like simple sugar foods like dates, honey, or maple sugar have been.

Thank you for your honesty, research, and care ~
With Love~

Debra Croteau

Rats, I have a daughter with type 1 diabetes having been giving her agave everyday, thinking I was helping her. BUMMER
Will try date syrup
Debi

conny postel

thank you so much for this information.
I have the same questions more people have;
what about yacon?
what about maple syrup? you already explained that you are looking into that.
and you hear some contradictions about stevia as well. and I was always told that honey has a very high GI???
it is difficult to decide what is safe and what is not. I try to think; the more natural the better
but how is yacon made?? it sure is processed.

Holly Polhemus

I recently read another article on agave not being that good for you. That was the first time hearing something about the agave so I didn't worry too much about it, but now after reading your information I think I will seek out receipts that I can use honey and also, look into using maple syrup in my baking. Thanks.

carolanne

Hi,AND! xylitol has cavity fighting properties, and if 7 gm per day is taken
in mints or lozenges, it is an important part in a cavity reduction program.
The first steps being removing existing decay (visit the dentist regularly) as these areas are families of the bad bacteria and the total population numbers of them must be decreased, , and flossing and great cleaning of the teeth each day (this also decreases the total number of the bad guy bacteria). then improving your snacking on fermentable carbohydrates Most health food store carry these xylitol mints and lozenges. Cheers!

Karen

Thank you Fresh Newtwork for being so honest with your customers and readers.

I have two children who have a squeeze of Agave Syrup everyday over their banana ice-cream. I feel really bad that I have been giving this to them but I will use up the bottle in the fridge and move on to dates.

Thank you once again for your honesty.

Karen

sharon

thank you so much for this excellent explanation. I had heard bits and pieces, but so nice to have it all together

Mary Mann

For me anything and everything in any way 'processed' is suspect and instinctively I don't trust any claims to the contrary by any producer, health professional, etc. Reading Ed Howell's book "Enzyme Nutrition" many moons ago confirmed this for me. Thank you to my instinct and to you for your integrity about agave. I look forward to more investigative articles of this nature from you on the othe processed products you sell.
Mary

Gail

I think unfortunately, there are going to be things that come out about many of the "healthy" foods that the raw community use regularly. One example is as people have said above about Stevia. Other products such as yacon, what are the processes involved in creating that? And honey, are all of our raw honey's processed without using any chemical treatments? Without people being able to go right back to the roots of the processes and manufacturers, how can we ever really know for sure? I think the main point is that people promoting these products need to stop stating these products are "raw" so therefore "the ulitmate" in healthy produce...later down the line it seems things come out to bite them on the bum!!! ;)

A Peach

I despair! I am not raw, but very interested, but everything I eat, that I think is healthy/ier, is not!!!

Antonia

Perhaps back to rapadura sugar which I believe is raw dehydrated cane sugar. Also I wonder if there is too much emphasis on GI. If you eat sugars along with fibre and fats then the absorption is slower anyway.
Wondered what you thought of molasses - I guess it's processed

The Fresh Network

To all those who have asked about yacon syrup...

It is similar to agave in that hard plant matter is turned into a syrup through processing. So if you prefer to stick to whole, natural, unprocessed foods, there are better alternatives.

But it is also different. It has a lower fructose content than raw agave syrup, and it can be considered much lower in sugar overall as it contains no glucose and can contain up to 50% fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a sugar that passes through the body unabsorbed.

A couple of people in the raw community whose opinions we respect were refusing to use agave long before its downsides started to become publicized (as they had already figured them out) and always used yacon syrup instead.

patricia

What about yacon syrup?

The Fresh Network responds: Please scroll to the comment above this one, Patricia

Viv Dawson

Totally agree with the last comment - as a diabetic have been very pleased with xylitol though more than 12g it is warned may give you diarrhea as i very rarely exceed more than a couple of teaspoons it is not a problem :)

Ruth Shivani

So respect you taking the higher ground on this and moving beyond 'just business' - well done and I appreciate your companies ethics, choice and proactive stance. blessings.

Midge

Raw honey is becoming more widely available - it is a very good substitute

holly paige

well done and thank you! Fresh's approach is heartwarming in these times!
we have stuck to fruits such as dates (as you recommend), figs even dried apricots and prunes as sweeteners in desserts - i also like lucuma - again a dried fruit

Edith Meyer

The article made me change my choice of sweeteners. I used only an agave syrup, which has 52% fructose. Date paste is not liquid enough for my kitchen, but today I found a rice syrup of the "Nature korn Mühle Werz" - company, which contains no fructose at all. For fine salad dressings it might be the superior solution...

Sagar

Well done on informative article about agave, and for not selling it.

However, I will be really impressed when you start pushing heavy weight behind real raw food, and not chocolates. I mean, seriously, at your shows, the chocs sell out and it is a good income, but it is not real food.

I can go without chocs now for a month, and will have a piece as a treat, but my main sugar source is apples, pears and other fruits.

Lose the chocolate and eat fruit.

Lana Rodriguez

Thank you for sharing this extensive, but readable information with your readership. I appreciate your honesty and moral judgement on this issue.

Sincerely,
Lana Rodriguez

Dot D.

Hi again,
I beleive you're misinformed. Please go to these sites and read for yourself that Agave is less than 50% fructose and is processed unharmfully. Glucose is the culprit in diabetics, I believe and Agave only has 5% glucose. Look at the charts as to how low a sweetener Agave really is!
www.blog.xagave.com
www.therawfoodworld.com
Thanks!

James Herlit

I have a phD in nutrition from Harvard and your report is very concerning. There is no conclusive research to support that Agave has a negative effect on one's health. The entire argument is based on excessive consumption and one would need to consume over 25 kilo per day of Agave to trigger this response. If one drank 25 kilos of water per day, internal organs would break down over a period of time.

Please do further research and I urge you not to believe everything you read. The first article about the negative effects of Agave has been traced back to the sugar companies - how very interesting

James Herlit phD

The Fresh Network responds: Thanks for your comment, James. We would be very interested to see the research you're basing the above on. We assume your assertion that one would need to consume over "25 kilos" of agave a day for it to have a negative effect on one's health was a typo? : )

William

Hello TFN! I love your passion for healthy eating as I share many of the same values. As a producer who uses Agave 'syrup' in my products I am more than shocked to see this.

As a scientist, however, I find myself wanting to analyse the facts for myself, rather than believe the first thing that is put in front of me. If you could let me know the sources you used for the basis of your report that would be greatly appreciated :)

Please don't misunderstand my intentions as an attack on the validity of your arguments. I think its great that work is being done to expose the truth!

Serenity

I always knew there was something up with agave.My gut feeling was correct! After giving up sugar last year and discovering agave, I was like yay! I can have sweet things but I don't really like the taste of agave and find that you have to use so much to get it to bring out the taste in things. I also put on weight last summer through discovering this sweetener it also did not help me get my candida under control so I stopped using it. I recently discovered yacon syrup which I adore but have yet to do research on this to find out if it is okay- my body says it is so i'm hoping it is but this article has inspired me to do some much needed sugar/sweetener research though I find it all very confusing! Any research you find on yacon or maple syrup I will be very inteerested inn ....thanks for this info and as for all this negativity about raw chocolate makers...blah! I am one and never use agave only yacon, honey and sometimes maple syrup cos I have always believed that they are better for you than agave!

Neil Porter

Hi,
So what happens to the Granola that contains this product.
The Fresh Network still lists it. Sorry if this has already been answered.
Neil

The Fresh Network

Thanks for asking, Neil.

We did consider whether we should also stop selling all products containing agave. As we mentioned in the article, our position on agave is that it is a treat, not a health food, and something to consume in small quantities and *occasionally*.

We still consume it this way and we don't know of a single raw fooder, no matter how "strict", who will not occasionally have an agave-sweetened dessert or snack. So we continue to sell these products but we don't market them misleadingly -this article is of course powerful "anti-marketing" for them - and it is up to the customer to decide.

As we said in our guidelines, the number one most important thing in our opinion is not to have agave in your kitchen cupboard as the sweetener you add to your recipes. From talking to people, we know that many go through a bottle or more a week that way, and *that* is what we did not want to be a part of anymore.

Alan Martin

Everything said in that blog would only apply to a processed agave. The argument being that the fructose in an unprocessed food product would react in the system like the fructose in an orange or an apple. A true raw agave is also a wonderful pre-biotic due to its high inulin content. Like all food products, the quality comes down to the same two questions: how was it grown and how was it processed? If man has messed around with it too much it probably is going to kill you. That may seem like a ridiculous statement, but it is a good rule of thumb for those seeking to improve the quality of their diet.

That being said, people are way too addicted to "sweet" and should try some other flavors for a change, like bitter or sour. We are all so focused on what the available "sweet" substitute is that we lose sight of the obvious question .... ahhhhh ... why do I need to eat so much sweet food? Our natural craving for sweet is the body's way of telling you that you need more glyconutrients. If a person simply must have something sweet, they should eat some fresh fruit. Then there is always maple syrup, honey, yacon, lacuma, loh han guo, stevia, sweet potato powder and powders made from every fruit on the planet if a person just can't quit their sweet tooth.

CS

you can also purchase date syrup online at www.organicsareforeveryone.com

you will become addicted! :) thanks for the great article.

Tania

I BOUGHT STEVIA POWDER IN THE UK the other day. I bought it at Bushwacker health shop in Hammersmith, London. I was really surprised to see it there. It was only 1.69 for 100g. It is by Cotswold Health Products Ltd. It states on the packet Not For Human Consumption as that is the only way it can then be sold. It is green. But NuNaturals Nustevia is the best and with no bitter after taste which can easily be bought online or on Ebay. In fact not so long ago I bought some from an English business seller on Ebay. Its easy to buy if you click on Worldwide but best to buy the extra large size as much more value for money.

Tammy

Hi,
I work for an agave manufacturer, and we don't use any of the chemicals some say are used in the agave industry. If fact, we don't use any chemicals at all.

It is troubling how this misinformation goes viral on the web. We have hundreds of devoted customers who are diabetic. The body processes our 100% blue agave differently that surgar or honey. That's why it's considered healthier.

Swayze

Good for you! It amazes me how much some raw foodists rely upon agave, honey, and other refined foods for sweeteners.

The best way by far to sweeten a recipe is good 'ole sweet fruit! Or you could just eat the fruit on its own. That works too. :)

Robert

The information written here is very helpful. Thanks for the pointers.

Barone Marina

Thanks!
All true!
For Aimee: xylitol is not the solution, it can cause intestinal discomfort in many people!

Allie

Xylitol is great, except for the fact that it is a laxative as all polyols seem to be!(sorbitol, mannitol, etc) I have used it over the last few years but am now using hardly any as I've had some bad diarhoea episodes and I think my stomach has become sensitised to it now. I would say probably long term dont use more than 25g a day

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