Sugar: the evolution of a forbidden fruit
Sweetness was meant to be irresistible. We are born with a sweet tooth. Babies drink in sugar with their mother’s milk. Sweetness represents an instant energy boost, a fuel that kept our ancestors going in a harsher world where taste buds evolved to distinguish health-giving ripeness and freshness from the dangers of bitter, sour, toxic foods. Sugar gives us drug-like pleasures – lab rats deprived of their sugar-water fix exhibit classic signs of withdrawal. When things are going well, we blissfully say, “Life is sweet.”[more inside]
"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]
The Great Maple Syrup Heist - in cartoon form! ...and other illustrated stories by Lucas Adams in Modern Farmer, including The Legend of the Goat Man and The Pleasant Valley Sheep War. [more inside]
About a month ago we learned in the blue that a large amount of maple syrup had been stolen from a Quebec warehouse. Yesterday, the RCMP seized a large amount of maple syrup from an export company in New Brunswick. The export company's owner claims that he purchased the syrup from one of his regular suppliers. The recovered syrup was escorted to parts unknown in Quebec by provincial police cars. As the Chicago Tribune notes, "Plot thickens as Quebec police seize cache of maple syrup" ...
Last week, authorities discovered over 10 million pounds of maple syrup (1/4 of provincial reserves) missing from a Quebec warehouse. It is valued at over $30 million dollars.
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]
"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]