Abstract

This article examines the transformation of ka’a he’e, a little-known Paraguayan medicinal herb, to stevia, the popular no-calorie sweetener. It traces how twentieth-century scientists, politicians, and entrepreneurs—from Paraguay to Europe to the United States to Japan and back—helped bring stevia to market and shape its image as a “natural” sugar substitute. It emphasizes that stevia’s Paraguayan origins had very little to do with its development. In the end, the product—in both substance and purpose—was vastly different from the herbal remedy common to indigenous Paraguayan medicinal traditions. In the late twentieth century and early twenty-first, Paraguayan politicians and businessmen sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to (re)claim stevia as their own.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 255-279
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-03
Open Access
No
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