06 May 2009

The Agave Nectar Police

I'm taking a very brief break from writing a final paper due on Monday to update Altered Plates with a rant yet again about all the misinformation on agave nectar out there on the Web. This stuff whips me up into a frenzy for a variety of reasons, but I'll get to that later.

There's another article out on the Web that talks about agave nectar being the same as high-fructose corn syrup. It also says that high fructose equals triglycerides, which it doesn't. (I've been using agave nectar for years and have very healthy triglycerides, thank you very much.) People have been picking up this article and republishing it on their sites or linking to it from their sites.

It just burns me up that some people who have Web sites or blogs continue to take a single (misinformed) source and make it gospel. It saddens me further that some people have lost the ability to research information thoroughly. For instance, where are the studies that say agave nectar is in any way like high fructose corn syrup, which is processed in all kinds of ways to make it chemically more fructose-heavy. For that matter, where are the studies and research that say agave nectar is harmful?

And, when I say studies, I mean studies not sponsored by agave nectar producers or corn producers, or any food producer for that matter. I want to see large-scale, well-researched studies that show significant results. Yes, I understand that statistics can be manipulated to say all kinds of things, but reputable studies also include the raw data in their results, and those numbers tell the real story.

If people would just take responsibility for themselves and what they put into their bodies and stop blaming the ingredients they use (or don't use because they've only read one source of information that doesn't provide any substantive research to back up their assertions), this all would become a non-issue and I could stop being the agave nectar police.


OK, so why does this get under my skin so much? Well, John and I were talking about it this morning and it's clear that there are people who are just plain lazy. Not too long ago, when I was a working journalist, I would spend weeks researching material for articles. Part of that process included collecting all the opinions and facts on a topic that could be had, not just the ones that supported the hypothesis of the story. I welcome opposing opinions that are based on fact, especially those with supporting arguments that are sound. Bring 'em on.

However, this business of taking one source -- one misinformed source -- and recycling it on a page/site is worse than doing nothing at all with the information. It means that the information is seen as having value, and increasingly more people in those circles will do the same thing. Then, we have a trend based on false information that just causes more problems.

I really don't like being the agave nectar police, but sometimes you just have to stand for something or else you will fall for everything. I say that in the voice of my friend Jerome who died on Sunday. He probably would have enjoyed this because he was diabetic and tried agave nectar for the first time at my house during a lively breakfast of waffles and fake sausage and bacon.

I also don't enjoy using Altered Plates as a soap box, but this blog focuses on the use of agave nectar instead of other sweeteners, so it's on topic. But, I'd rather focus on the food. So, in memory of Jerome, who was a very good person, please do your part and stand for something. If you see someone's site spreading misinformation of any kind, leave a comment. They may not approve it, but at least you will have tried.


Catherine said...

Sounds like you had some sad news this weekend -- sorry to hear about Jerome.

I agree with you, though -- there's always some new fad, diet, "scary" ingredient, etc. When are we, as a culture, going to stop fearing our food and just enjoy whole, natural foods that we prepare ourselves and put into our bodies?

Here's some good news -- the kitchenwares store I work for just bought in a couple of agave nectar cookbooks and a supply of agave for sale, and our design folks are looking at where they will put up a mini-display! How cool is that?

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks Catherine. Glad to hear your store is doing great things!

Anonymous said...

Deb, you keep fighting the good fight. We're with you, sistah! Thanks for all your great recipes, too.


Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Lori! I'm very happy to see you here.

Robbin said...

I have enjoyed your site, I just found it today. I particularly love your use of polish pottery. I run a site, potterymonster dedicated to food and polish pottery so your site caught my eye. I also enjoy the alternative ideas for cooking, I might try some. :)

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Robbin. I'll go take a look!