Stevia is a naturally-sourced sugar substitute with no calories and no carbohydrates. This plant has been used as a sweetener for centuries in Paraguay and Brazil, and although it has been sold in Japan for about 40 years, stevia-based products have only been approved as a food additive since 2008 in the US and 2011 in the EU.
There is some sort of debate between those who support the use of stevia and those who prefer traditional or alternative sugar.
Stevia can adapt to the European summer and survive through the winter using a greenhouse or adequate mulching.
It is cultivated in some parts of Italy, including in the Maremma in southern Tuscany, where the mild climate is ideal for its growth. A local farm in Sorano has been growing stevia in a 100% organic way, even during winter, thanks to companion planting and other eco-friendly techniques that protect the plants from parasites and diseases.
Sant’Egle farm uses its homegrown stevia, also known as sweet leaf or sugar leaf, to produce organic compotes and jams with Maremma-grown fruit!
Sources: JustinToscana Blog & Stevia Biologica