Why I Made The Switch To Organic Sugar

Posted by Ed 23 days ago
Sugar is an ingredient that we all know we should be eating sparingly — too much sugar is never a good thing. 

This week, I take a closer look at organic cane sugar. How is it different from conventional, white sugar? Is it really any better for you? Is it worth the price difference? The results aren't particularly surprising, but they are very interesting!
What Is Sugar Exactly?
About 85% of the world's total sugar production comes from sugar cane. Sugar cane is a tropical plant that looks a little like bamboo. It is inside the leaves of the sugar cane plant that (via photosynthesis) sugar is "created". The resulting sweet juice is stored in the sugar cane stalks, that are later harvested and turned into the various types of sugar we see on the grocery shelves.
Regardless of what type of sugar you prefer - white, brown, or raw, organic or otherwise, cane sugar is essentially sucrose (> 99%) - a combination of glucose and fructose, all wrapped up in one little molecule (C12H22O11).
How Is Sugar Made?
Well the answer is, it depends. Whilst there isn't a lot of difference between the chemical structure of organic and conventional sugar, the process by which it gets there is quite different. Let me explain...
Organic Sugar
Like other foods, the “organic” label means the sugar cane was grown without the use of artificial herbicides, pesticides, or fertilisers to meet IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement) standards. Not only better for, us but better for the farmers, local eco-systems and environment as a whole.
But it isn't just in the growing that organic sugar differs. Unlike most other organic foods, organic sugar is also processed differently from conventional sugar, guaranteeing an entire process free from synthetic chemicals or man-made compounds...
The sugar cane is washed, chopped, and crushed to extract the cane juice. The juice is then boiled, spun in a centrifuge, and dried into sugar crystals. To remove extra molasses (the dark brown liquid part of sugar cane juice), the crystals are then steam cleaned. Because a little molasses and trace minerals are retained inside the crystals, organic sugar crystals are golden in colour.
All relatively straight forward really, particularly when you compare it to the production of conventional white sugar. It's a bit of an eye-opener...
Conventional, White Sugar (Sugar is vegan, isn't it?... You might need to think again)
The sugar cane fields are first burned to remove extra leaves and debris. The sugar cane is then harvested, washed, chopped, and juiced. The juice is clarified (i.e. 'impurities' removed) by phosphatation, sulphitation, or carbonation. All three clarification methods involve lime (the calcium oxide, not the fruit!):
Phosphatation: phosphoric acid, lime, and polyacrylamide are used to pull out impurities in the juice.
Sulphitation: lime and sulphur dioxide are used to pull out impurities (sometimes leaving trace amounts of sulphur behind)
Carbonation: lime and carbon dioxide are used to pull out impurities.
The light brown sugar liquid, with the help of activated carbon and/or bone char (i.e. yes burnt animal bones!, for more information click here) or added sulfur dioxide, "decolourises" the sugar to make it more white. After being whitened, the sugar is then crystallised with the help of isopropyl alcohol and spun in a centrifuge to remove the molasses. This molasses liquid is then passed back through this process a further two times to extract as much sugar as possible.
Organic Golden Sugar: Has a slight tinge of brown, due to a small amount of retained molasses and trace minerals
Why the Differences in Processing?
Two reasons:
Money talks! The production of conventional white sugar produces considerably more sugar per kilo of sugar cane and at a lower cost, compared to organic sugar production.
Consumers (by and large) like a product that they are familiar with (i.e. sugar that is bright and white).
As a result, refined white sugar is 99.99% pure sucrose. Organic sugar is slightly less pure so to speak, but as previously mentioned, the “impurities” left behind is the good stuff, just a little molasses and trace minerals (e.g. iron, calcium, vitamin B6, chromium, magnesium, selenium, and potassium) - and not things that need to be refined out.
Replace Conventional White Sugar with Organic Golden Sugar, 1:1
Whilst sugar, in any form (organic or conventional) should be limited. I reckon if you’re going to enjoy it, choosing a more natural, organic option, is the way to go.
It's really easy to make the switch, as organic golden sugar substitutes 1:1 for conventional white sugar.

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