I was shocked to learn from the cookbook Organic & Chic, by Sarah Magid I recently acquired as a gift, that most of the regular white sugars you buy in the grocery store are made from sugar beets and not sugar cane?
So what's the difference you ask?
The difference, Sarah says in her book, is that most sugar beets are cheaper and require only one form of processing to turn them into sugar, which sounds nice I guess. But the problem is that although the two types of sugars may look similar they can act very differently when using them for baking, and they taste different too.
AND the most astounding thing I learned: sugar made from sugar beets is typically processed using Bone Char-or Animal bone charcol to give it that "white" color. Gross!
There's more, most sugar beets are genetically modified too. Double gross! I don't want to eat something that has had it's DNA altered! Do you?
Sugars made from pure cane sugar, on the other hand, do not use this process; hence it's light brown hue-because it is closest to it's natural state.
Although organic pure cane sugar is usually more expensive it tastes better and is better for you because it's grown and processed without using harsh chemicals, or pesticides. Nobody wants to eat pesticides!
So next time you're in the market for sugar check out the organic or natural section of your grocery store. Most store brands, including those from Target, Costco and even Wal-Mart have organic and all natural products that are usually cheaper than name brands. So spend the extra dollar, trust me it's worth it!
Check out Sarah's book for more information about sugar, and other baking ingredients.
Now you know.