Years ago while in my mother’s garden she asked me to try eating the leaf of an herb that she was growing. I bit into it and it tasted very sweet, unlike any herb I had ever eaten. My mother went on to explain that it is called Stevia and that it can be used in place of sugar. Since then I have heard the name quite often, especially in the past couple of years as many companies use the name to try and sell their not so natural sugar substitutes. Thankfully, people are becoming aware of just how bad the consumption of refined sugar can be. Unfortunately with this realization, companies are taking advantage of people, touting that their sugar substitutes are healthy alternatives. Sadly in most instances, these sugar alternatives are just as unhealthy, if not more so. The only true ‘healthy’ sugar substitutes are those that are derived from nature, such as honey and maple syrup. Another alternative is one that you can grow right in your own backyard – the Stevia plant. Many of the companies claiming that their sugar substitute is healthy do so based on the premise that they use Stevia. The problem is that they use it in addition to harmful chemicals. The Stevia plant on its own is completely safe. Here at My Green Mattress, we know all too well about companies that use a natural material, mixed with toxic ones and then claim that their product is all natural. It’s one reason why we obtained a GREENGUARD Gold certification, so that people have a way to verify that we are a company that can be trusted when it comes to natural and organic mattresses. But, we digress… Stevia in its dried and powdered form can be used in place of sugar in baking, while the whole leaf is great for sweetening drinks, including tea. It’s pretty easy to grow, as it tolerates most soil conditions and it doesn’t require too much work on the gardener’s part. So, when planning your garden this spring, consider adding a Stevia plant or two, which will allow you to add a natural sweetness to some of your summer and fall dishes.