In 2012 (previously), $18.7 million of maple syrup was stolen from a storage facility in St-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec (Modern Farmer's illustrated account here). Much of the stolen syrup was eventually traced and recovered (previously). In November of this year, Richard Vallières and two others were found guilty of the crime. This was not the only maple syrup heist of its kind. Quebec produces 72 per cent of the world's supply, with quotas, prices, and quality standards set by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. Rich Cohen, writing in Vanity Fair, asks: "Have there been side effects to all this success? Has the federation, with its quotas and its methods of control (quotas must be enforced), reaped its own sticky harvest?"
"In October 2013, Drs. Tim Perkins and Abby van Den Berg of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, revealed the findings of a study at a maple syrup conference in New Brunswick, Canada that sent waves through the industry. In 2010, they were studying vacuum systems in sap collection operations. Based on the observation that one of the mature trees in the study that was missing most of its top was still yielding high volumes of sap, they hypothesized that the maples were possibly drawing moisture from the soil and not the crown. Previously, they had presumed that the sap dripping from tap holes was coming from the upper portion of the tree. But, if the tree was missing most of its crown then, they surmised, it must be drawing moisture from the roots. ... They realized that their discovery meant sugarmakers could use saplings, densely planted in open fields, to harvest sap. In other words, it is possible that maple syrup could now be produced as a row crop like every other commercial crop in North America." [more inside]
Before the 1980 Act of Parliament which made O Canada the national anthem of Canada, the anthem was functionally God Save the Queen, but there was another patriotic song which served as the unofficial anthem: The Maple Leaf Forever. The song was written by poet Alexander Muir in October of 1867 to celebrate the confederation of Canada in July of that year and was famously inspired by a silver maple which stood in his front yard on Laing St in Toronto. Last night's storms brought the tree down, after a century and a half. [more inside]
Old man winter has arrived. That means sugaring season and maple syrup (pdf) production is not that far away. Creamed, crystalized or liquid, there are treats for everyone. Previously
In the past many folk rightfully pointed out that IHOP (International House of Pancakes) didn't have a restaurant in Vermont. Times have been a changin.' Last month, Vermont became the 50th and final state to welcome an IHOP. And, being in Vermont, "old fashioned corn syrup," masquerading as true maple syrup didn't make the grade. "The IHOP here is the only one of about 1,400 in the United States, Canada and Mexico to serve real maple syrup." The managers got permission from the company "with a special dispensation" to serve the real stuff. [more inside]
Up in Maple country The season is right for making maple syrup. Grades a,b,d; colors are factors. The international market is a factor. Visit lovely Cape Breton. [more inside]
"The sweet aroma of sap permeating the air, still harkens the arrival of Spring"* in New England, Canada and other U.S. states. The Eastern Woodland Indians discovered that maple sap cooked over an open fire produces a sweet sugar [video], resulting in maple syrup. Many associate the syrup with Quebec (which produces most of the world's supply) and Vermont where about "one of every four trees...is a maple."* Vermont even has a "maple cop." He enforces "Vermont's maple regulations for the state Agency of Agriculture, which strictly regulates how Vermont's most famous export is made, marketed and sold."* [more inside]
Good smell perplexes New Yorkers How odd the city smelled sweet, like maple syrup, and all over: up in Harlem, downtown, in Astoria, Park Slope, other parts of Brooklyn. And what was it? A breakout of MSUD and public urination? Or something more fortean or more sinister?