Each year on the homestead, I’ve made at least one significant change in habit or consumer choice to lower my carbon footprint. It seems that businesses and governments don’t feel like believing science when it implies we have to reduce and change our consumption of resources. Nonetheless, we as citizens and consumers need to do this for the good of our health, wallets, and planet. One thing I’m working on this year is in cutting out corn sweeteners.

The things I’ve done to lower my carbon footprint:

  • planted lots of vegetation for shade in summer and for producing food,
  • reduced my use of water  (which requires some energy at the water treatment plant), and
  • changed my grocery shopping habits, increasing my organic and Community Supported Agriculture purchases and reducing  packaged, processed food.

This means I do a little more cooking, and I only buy processed things I don’t make myself (fake chick’n nuggets, for example – or a certain kind of tofu that’s great with barbecue sauce).

I’m growing even more vegetables and cereals in my yard this year – the flax looks pretty, and gets eaten by my rabbits; I’m not growing corn and wheat!

Back to cutting out corn fractions. These are the starches and sugars that come from corn. It seems to affect one’s health more than the planet, until I think about how much sugar we consume in everything, and if we all consumed less (and a greater variety), it might help with the environmental footprint. I will read labels and try to avoid high fructose corn syrup, and continue to buy food that is less processed.

I’m also switching over my refined sugar needs. The world is a small place, and we in North America and Europe are at the top of the food chain. We can buy whatever we need; our ability to pay top dollar means other countries go for cheaper alternatives. So we buy cane sugar (some European countries use sugar beets), even though we can’t grow it, and these other countries buy cheaper corn sweeteners from us, and add to their health problems. I want them to have the cane sugar.

So what can I use instead of corn sweeteners and refined sugar? Take a look at this list, and you will realize just how viable it is to take part in this effort:

  • Honey for sweetening tea, and barley malt (in the form of Ovaltine, or in the form from the brewer’s, or bulk outlet – the kind with bins and scoops!) for sweetening coffee and other hot drinks. Some people sweeten their tea with jam.
  • Red beets and, if I ever find them, sugar beets for cooking and baking. Cook them and mash them in. This is a particular plus for chocolate, as it produces a nice colour. For more savoury dishes, carrots add sweetness.
  • Dried fruits for cooking and baking – raisins, apricots, dates, and figs are all naturally sweet and add a nice touch to pies, crumbles, and stews.
  • The Great Canadian Maple Syrup.

I intend to recruit my Dad, who has a knack for producing jumbo beets, and I will grow more of them myself (I love beet greens!). I’ll even try my hand at growing barley, though I don’t expect to malt it – it’ll likely feed the rabbits while it’s still green. Though, the Canada Malting refinery is in Griffintown.

Do you have any non-cane-sugar suggestions (other than stevia)? What would be your obstacle in making the switch?


Also published on Medium.