I’m always leery of substitutes. “Try this – it’s almost as good as sugar.” And twenty years (and many packets of this stuff) later, you find out it’s bad for you. Which shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Since when has the easy fix been good for you? But having learned the considerable perils of diet soda, I’ve been on constant prowl for a tasty, fizzy substitute. With immense trepidation, of course.
And then I read about Zevia, which claims to be the natural alternative to diet soda. While the words “natural” and “diet soda” in the same sentence seemed like a big red flag to signal pending disappointment, I couldn’t help going to their site to see how they’re able to back this up. Turns out Zevia contains natural ingredients like stevia, erythritol, natural tartaric, kola nut extract and annatto – none of which I’m familiar with, of course. But a quick trip to the Wiki revealed that stevia is “a genus of about 150 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America.” It’s becoming widely used as a sugar substitute, despite its potentially bitter aftertaste in large doses. Widely used in Japan, the stuff was banned in the U.S. in the early ‘90s and is only now making a legal comeback.