Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: What about the controversy surrounding agave?
Answer: I have seen a couple of people with clout on the internet say that one should be careful with agave. They make a decent point that since much of the product imported into the U.S. is from Mexico, we don’t always know what we’re getting. Sometimes imported product can be pretty wild and woolly, especially from developing countries. An allegation has gone around that high fructose corn syrup is cut into the agave. That would certainly be a way to increase your profit margin, if you’re an agave manufacturer.
The agave I use, that I buy in huge bulk for my local buying group a couple times a year (66 cases of 4 gallons each sitting in my garage right now), I know does not contain corn syrup. Personally, I react very negatively to HFCS, and I feel great when I use this agave. I required the company I buy from wholesale to produce their organic certification. I checked into the importer’s reputation and didn’t find anything amiss. I got the nutritional sheet on both the light and dark, and compared (overall, no big difference).
You can get agave RAW or not. I don’t believe there’s any way the product is literally cold-pressed from the cactus straight into the bottle. I don’t personally believe it’s truly raw. So I use agave sparingly, as a replacement for items that are more processed and more destructive to your blood sugar.
Agave has 1/3 the calories and 1/3 the impact on your blood sugar that other concentrated sweeteners do, like HFCS, sugar, and honey. That’s pretty brilliant. Don’t take that as a license to go crazy with it, though.
If you want to be an absolutist or purist, don’t use any sweeteners at all. Just eat fruit and dates. Even most raw foodists do use maple syrup, which is never truly raw, and agave. If you want to use occasional sweeteners for baked goods, etc., a good brand of agave is probably the best or one of the best sweetener options. (Madhava, a brand a few of you have mentioned, does have a good reputation.)
Locals, I bought some extra agave, so let me know if you want a case: 4 gallons for $130 (raw, organic).