Sunday, August 16, 2009

PureVia is PureCrap

I've seen this ad poking around for the artificial sweetener du jour, PureVia. Also known as Reb A, this chemical is in a sense natural. It is extracted from a plant with water, and the resulting slurry is about 50% Reb A. The sweetener is extracted through crystallization and "other" techniques.

Still, I love the marketing direction. "It's NATURAL." Same tack that Splenda took. "It tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar." Fuck you, it tastes like sugar. All of the marketing dollars in the world, and whether it's made from sugar or extracted from a plant, it all tastes like ass. Aspartame, Saccharin, Splenda, and now PureVia all taste the same. They're chemically different, and made differently, but they all taste the same. It's absurd to say they taste like sugar, because if that was the case we'd have a free lunch. Coca-Cola would stop using sugar, cakes would have one-half the calories, the sun would always shine and eternal happiness would descend upon the globe.

But we don't have that. We have a bunch of molecules that have the same, nasty, aspartamey aftertaste. I tried the new Tropicana Trop 50 low-calorie OJ. It said naturally sweetened. Silly me. I assumed that meant, I dunno, fruit juice... from fruit. Poured a glass, and there it was, nastiness. Pure, unadulterated nastiness. The most disgusting orange juice I've ever had the displeasure of drinking. At the time, I was unaware of Reb A, and stupidly thinking that there was no artificial sweetener in it, its presence on the ingredient list was written off with my original hypothesis of the drinks genesis.

Namely, I figured that they reduced the calories by removing some of the sugar, and using some chemical to reduce the bitter and sour flavors in the remaining solution. Thus resulting in a low-calorie drink that simply tasted like watered-down OJ. No such luck. I'm not kidding when I say that simply watering down your own OJ to create a low-calorie drink would taste significantly better. It's annoying that they can say naturally sweetened with Reb A, since it really is a plant extract, because now they basically use that as a lie, attempting to pass off stuff that tastes like ass as stuff that does not taste like ass.

There's no free lunch, people. If you don't want the calories of soda, drink water. And if you have diabetes... I feel so, so bad for you.

Oh, and if you want to hear how fucking natural Splenda is, read the way it's "made from sugar."

It is manufactured by the selective chlorination of sucrose (table sugar), which converts three of the hydroxyl groups to chlorides. The selective chlorination is achieved by selective protection of the primary alcohol groups followed by acetylation and then deprotection of the primary alcohol groups. The partially acetylated sugar is then chlorinated with a chlorinating agent such as phosphorus oxychloride, followed by deprotection of the ester to give sucralose.

It's interesting that Splenda, even though it's made from sugar, doesn't allow manufacturers to claim "natural sweetener" like Reb A. Oh yeah. Splenda really is JUST LIKE SUGAR. Just like I'm the queen of England.

UPDATE: I have found what might be the most authoritative overview of Reb-A derived sweeteners Truvia and PureVia.

Truvia and PureVia Part 1– A Window to the Past or the Future?
Truvia and PureVia Part 2- The Science Behind the Sweeteners
Truvia and PureVia Part -: The Controversy of Stevia

What struck me about the whole mess is the intense focus of the marketing on how natural this garbage is. Look at the logos, BOTH of them implement a leaf image in the same damned way. Both are "light" and "earthy." Or look at the company that's "making" PureVia, The Whole Earth Sweetener Company. The company was built from the ground up to be Earthy and organic. It's a freaking shell company built solely to market PureVia. From their website's About Us section, "Our job is to grow and produce 100% naturally sweetened products." And by that, they mean shill 100% Reb-A crap.

Oooooooooh, this chaps my ass so much. The marketers have been waiting for years, foaming at the mouth, to be able to market this swill as natural. Scientific studies about the sweetener are of poor quality and most were funded by the sweetener companies in hope of pushing it through to the public. Even worse, some of the reports were published in Elsevier journals! I seriously doubt there's anything dangerous about the shit, but it's still shit. And both PureVia and Truvia, which are loaded with chemicals other than Reb-A, are barely natural. How dare they call this natural, and wrap it up in graphics of leaves, Earth, and happy little organic yuppies.

As the Nutrition Wonderland story explains, the clusterfuck with the FDA and the "research" being funded by all of the companies making the product, we have Truvia and PureVia because of a huge financial push by the companies we should least trust. I'm no conspiracy theorist and I seriously doubt this stuff is incredibly dangerous, but the fact of the matter is that this is NOT natural and still tastes terrible. Saying that a product is "NATURALLY SWEETENED!" with Reb-A borders on being a lie. It is technically true, and I suppose if you are worried about possible negative effects from other sweeteners, and you are incredibly gullible, then the marketing might work on you. It does not work on me. All it does is piss me off. I don't need their natural sweetener, because I've already found a better one. It's called sugar, and I think it's swell.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Continuing Adventures in Latte Art

I finally ordered some of those squeezy bottles that every chef on Earth has four hundred of (I swear, I tried not ending that sentence in a preposition, but it just sounded weird). These new wonder-tools (hehe, tool) gives me the ability to make fancy swirl patterns all over the tops of my lattes! It's so PRETTY!! Making a two-tone pattern with caramel and chocolate is great.

Oh, the Amazon link is to what I bought. Don't buy that. It doesn't come with the small caps for the tops of the bottles, which is a real pain. I wanted three bottles, and only one shipping charge. I should have just ordered the three separately or gone to Bed Bath & Beyond. GET THE LITTLE CAPS.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Survey is Dead. Long Live Survey.

I axed how far you would go for dinner. I was surprised. Then I was surprised I was surprised. If you're reading a blog about food, something tells me you're willing to go a bit farther than the average person for a plate.

An amazing 38% of you said you've gone 75 miles or more for a meal. An additional 33% said you've traveled 50 miles or more. 3% said 25 miles or more. And two of you admitted to fearing distances greater than five miles. I'm glad you were able to talk about that. I think you should be very proud of yourselves.

This next survey will carry us from summer on into fall. In which season do you eat the most? I've found that I eat very little during the summer, and subsequently lose a little weight. I gain it back during the winter, when my daily intake of stuffing increases significantly. So what about you?