“Most honey brands are adulterated with sugar” the headlines read! It has recently come to light how a lot of commercially available brands have sugar syrup in them. But today I’m not talking about honey… I want to share my experience with another natural sweetener which is just as adulterated, but not as talked about – Jaggery.
Why is Jaggery better than Sugar?
The micro-nutrients present in Jaggery possess anti-toxic and anti-carcinogenic properties. Magnesium in Jaggery strengthens the nervous system. Jaggery is rich in Iron and helps prevent Anemia in women. These are the reasons for making Jaggery superior to Sugar.
The Jaggery you are consuming most likely has sugar in it!
Majority of Jaggery available in the market has at least 20-25% of white Sugar! Yes, you read that right. White sugar is added while making Jaggery to provide a nice golden colour and hard texture. I learnt this during my search for the producers of chemical-free Jaggery. The funny thing when it comes to Jaggery is that chemical-free is easier to obtain than sugar-free! In order to get sugar-free Jaggery, one needs to go to great lengths and shell out some extra bucks to ensure its PURE & Sugar free.
After what I witnessed, I think it is high time Jaggery labels starts mentioning – ‘with no added sugar’! Read on and you will feel the same.
The Farmer from whom we sourced our unadulterated and chemical free Kakvi and Jaggery told us that it’s not that farmers cannot produce pure Jaggery, it is just that market doesn’t demand it, on the contrary, pure Jaggery has few takers. One reason is the colour, pure Jaggery is blackish and not golden. Secondly, pure Jaggery has high amount of moisture, making it hygroscopic and hence will get spoiled soon with exposure to atmosphere.
That just leaves us with two types of Jaggery – one, with chemicals and two, chemical-free. In both of these one can get varieties based on % of sugar added to it. Jaggery with 25%, 35%, 50% even 80% sugar! I mean, why not eat sugar then!
Another eye-opener for me was the production process. India is one of largest producers & exporters of Jaggery. Almost 55-60% of world’s Jaggery production happens in India. And yet, it is one of the most unorganized sectors with negligible automation. The Jaggery industry still treats the production process like craftsmanship and the knowledge of making good gud (Jaggery) is passed down from generations.
While the scale of Jaggery production is industrial,the process is NOT. Majority of the Jaggery making that I got to see in Kolhapur was open air production, exposing it to all sorts of impurities. It is so basic and manual that it almost feels criminal! The reasons for not automating Jaggery production varies depending upon whom you ask! Political, economical, sugar belt strongmen etc!
While we were able to obtain chemical-free and sugar-free Jaggery directly from the farmer, what I learnt during the process was quite a revelation. I’m sure this article will be the same for you too! Another ingredient that is consumed for its goodness and the consumers are completely oblivious to its perils.