Coconut Palm Sugar: Good for You, Great for the Earth

One Degree Organic Foods made it our mission to find a better-for-you sugar to add a touch of sweetness to our cereals and granolas. Our goal was to discover an unrefined sweetener that’s certified organic, non-GMO, truly sustainable, and veganically grown without animal-based fertilizers.

When our family began the search for a healthy alternative sweetener, we were thrilled to find coconut palm sugar, one of the world’s oldest and most cherished sweeteners at Big Tree Farms, a family-run company in Bali, Indonesia, that grows palm trees sustainably in the lush landscape of Java.

When we met Ben and Blair Ripple, who founded Big Tree Farms along with partner Frederick Schilling, we were immediately impressed by their commitment to the earth, local people’s well-being, and your family’s health. Rather than raze forests to plant one type of tree, they nurture multiple tree and plant species that help one another flourish. Big Tree Farms has created a network of farmers and artisans who use time-honored natural methods to harvest and produce coconut palm sugar.

First, tappers climb the palm trees in the wee hours of every morning and again in the evenings, slice off the tips of palm flowers, and collect the fresh nectar. Next, they strain the nectar into big cauldron and stir it until it evaporates down into crystals. Then the farmers massage the sugar until it slowly begins granulating and is ready for one last straining. The result is beautiful golden-colored sweetener with all its nutrients intact, including B vitamins, amino acids, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and other minerals.

Because this is a whole sweetener that contains the fiber inulin, your body digests it more slowly so you won’t get the big blood sugar spikes and drops like you would from refined sugars. Plus, our cereals contain just 1 to 8 grams of sugar per serving and our low-sugar granolas only have 5 to 6 grams in each serving. You can also feel good about knowing exactly where this ingredient comes from. We’re all for transparency, and we know you are too. Together, we’re fostering a more sustainable ingredients network, which will have a huge impact on the health of our planet and of families near and far.

Note: It’s easy to confuse coconut palm sugar with palm oil, which has been called out for environmental issues lately, but the oil is grown in a very different way than the sustainable sugar we source from palm trees that remain intact after harvest. Palm oil comes from specific palm trees that require tons of water to grow. To clear space for plantations, developers bulldoze rainforests, stripping endangered orangutans, elephants, and tigers of their natural habitat and forcing native people off their land. None of these practices reflect our mission to rebuild trust in the food system and support people, communities, and the earth.