We sometimes get questions or comments about our use of agave nectar in our chocolate truffles and fudge. I’d like to share our perspective on this subject since the integrity of the ingredients in our products is a big concern for us and I believe for our customers as well.
First, I’d like to stress that we are committed to using the highest quality ingredients we can source for all our products. This is for several reasons: health of the environment, health of the farmers that produce our ingredients, and our health as consumers of the products we produce. Finally, of course, it always has to be delicious. The ingredients we use are chosen (and it’s not easy!) because they fulfill all these things as much as is possible.
The agave nectar we use is raw certified organic blue agave nectar that is sustainably harvested and produced in Mexico. This is the best, highest quality agave nectar we can practically source. The process by which the nectar is made is quite simple: juice is mechanically extracted (crushed and expressed) from the mature agave plants, then it is heated to only 118° for a time to improve the flavor and concentrate the nectar. From there it is filtered and bottled for use.
We believe it is a wholesome sweetener, but we are also aware of the criticisms and have read much of the information that is out there about agave.
For decades we have known that the Western diet is too high in refined sugars. There have been many ways in which this has been addressed, mostly in terms of reducing the amount of sweet foods in our diet and finding other ways to sweeten foods. Agave nectar is one of the sweeteners that was introduced as an alternative.
Currently, the sugar in the Western diet is still there in too great a quantity, but for the most part it has changed it’s form. For reasons purely to do with profitability, the sugar of choice in mainstream Western food has gone from cane or beet sugar to corn syrup. Corn syrup is high in fructose, and so we are beginning to see health problems specifically related to excessive fructose consumption.
Agave nectar is also primarily fructose, and so it is in recent years getting identified by some nutritionists as not healthful. We don’t argue with this: sugar in any form shouldn’t be marketed or thought of as a health food! Seriously, however, this is something to be aware of, and for some of us, the most healthful choice may be avoiding fructose in general.
For us, a healthful diet means eating a wide variety of whole foods, with an emphasis on locally produced and organic foods. Sweeteners such as honey, agave or coconut sugar can harmoniously play a part as essential flavors for many dishes and treats, but they are used sparingly. Keeping things varied, balanced, and of high quality is key to making a diet like this work, so any added sugar takes the form of complex, natural sugars that aren’t out of proportion to the rest of what we are eating. This approach to nutrition and health is the foundation of everything we produce at Tiny Isle, and we consider raw, organic agave nectar an appropriate part of that approach.
It is our intention that Tiny Isle truffles and fudge be consumed as occasional treats within the context of a healthful general diet.