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March 14, 2013 By adminEveryone’s favorite Canadian astronaut/YouTube sensation is back to explain how food tastes in space. The answer: different! Sort of. As soon as you enter orbit, your Read More »
March 14, 2013 By adminExpecting better season than last year The sap at sugar bush farms in New Brunswick is flowing ahead of schedule, which has maple syrup producers expecting Read More »
March 14, 2013 By adminHADLEY, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – No plate of pancakes…or waffles… is complete without a helping of syrup. But how is this sticky goodness made? Well we Read More »
February 01, 2013 By admin“Natural maple flavor,” caffeine, butter flavoring, and invert sugar are just four of the ingredients that make up the unholiest of breakfast condiments, Wired Wyatt’s Caffeinated Syrup, Read More »
August 06, 2012 By adminWhat do glaciers, maple syrup and lobsters have in common? They’re all symptoms of global warming — the worldwide process of climate change that has become Read More »
Category Archives: News
Everyone’s favorite Canadian astronaut/YouTube sensation is back to explain how food tastes in space. The answer: different! Sort of. As soon as you enter orbit, your body, freed from the shackles of gravity, celebrates by shooting a bounty of fluids into your head and sinuses. So you’ll barely be able to breathe through your nose, much less taste anything.
But once a few days go by, your body adjusts and everything goes relatively back to normal, including taste. So, as Hadfield tells us, you can still enjoy all your favorite Canadian staples: maple cookies and maple syrup in a tube, naturally. But wait—there’s also the more exotic Canadian fare such as “chocolate,” “salmon pate,” and “buffalo beef jerky.” In other words, solidified maple syrup, maple syrup in a can, and buffalo-flavored maple syrup, respectively. Bon appetit
Expecting better season than last year
The sap at sugar bush farms in New Brunswick is flowing ahead of schedule, which has maple syrup producers expecting a much better season than last year.
“This past couple days, it’s been running really good,” said Gig Kierstead, who owns and operates Elmhurst Outdoors on the Kingston Peninsula.
Normally, the sap doesn’t start unit mid-March, he said.
The long-range weather forecast is also encouraging, said Kierstead.
“The only cool spell is during the weekend, which wouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “We’ll have lots of sap to boil anyway” from throughout the week.
Kierstead says cold nights and mild days are needed for a good maple syrup harvest.
“Last year, about a week from now, we had 20-degree weather, which ruined us for the season,” he said.
Unseasonably warm temperatures and floods led to a poor 2012 harvest for most producers in central and southern regions. Some producers in the Moncton area didn’t even put out taps last year.
Kierstead expects the sap will keep running for the next five weeks.
New Brunswick’s maple syrup industry is the third largest in the world and generates roughly $12 million in annual revenue for the province.
“Natural maple flavor,” caffeine, butter flavoring, and invert sugar are just four of the ingredients that make up the unholiest of breakfast condiments, Wired Wyatt’s Caffeinated Syrup, which retails online for $12.99 per bottle, or essentially, $1.85 per ounce. Sure, you could get by with a few crushed-up Vivarins, a family-size jug of Aunt Jemima Butter Rich, and a balloon whisk, but the whole point of using Wired Wyatt’s — with its tweaky label emblazoned with the words “all-natural” and “energy” and Doug Funnie-on-steroids caricature — is to announce to the world that you absolutely adore caffeine. This seems to be something of a trend.
Of course, you may have heard that records of ER visits citing energy drinks have doubled since 2007, so after you uncap your Wired Wyatt’s and while you wait for your flapjacks to bubble through, consider this Wired infographic, which depicts the broad array of caffeine-themed products on the market.
There are over-the-counter “shots,” boosted drinks, nose sprays, lip balms, sodas, “water enhancers,” chewing gum, “energy sheets,” “gels,” pills, and “refreshers,” most of which are underregulated, though the fact that the FDA is investigating potential connections between energy drinks and several sudden deaths would seem to indicate that the multi-billion-dollar “energy” industry sector is about to undergo regulation, so you might as well stock up now. “Americans plow through more than 15 million pounds of powdered caffeine annually,” writes Wired, “enough to fill a freight train 2 miles long, all 270 cars loaded to the brim.” All aboard, indeed.
What do glaciers, maple syrup and lobsters have in common?
They’re all symptoms of global warming — the worldwide process of climate change that has become our major environmental challenge.
Glaciers are a well-known symptom, with the astonishing retreat of ice around the North Pole providing shipping lanes through the Arctic. And no, the addition of ice to some parts of Antarctica will not compensate, though this aspect is frequently cited by climate change skeptics.
Maple syrup is not at the top of most lists. But it’s an extraordinarily well-documented change. Through records kept by generations of New Englanders, we can plot the epicenter of peak production from Connecticut in the 1800s through Massachusetts and southern Vermont by the 1900s. Some still imagine that Vermont remains the center of syrup production, but the best territory has long since shifted north, to northern Maine and, now, the even higher latitudes of Quebec.
About lobsters we have less data, but what we do know is troubling. As recently as the 1990s, there was a fishable population of lobsters in Long Island Sound. Then it disappeared, almost overnight. The well-known abundance of Maine lobster in recent years has been matched by sharp declines off southern New England. Could our turn be next?
We do know that lobsters reproduce best in cold ocean water. The early shedding seen this year — producing a glut of lobsters before the tourists arrived — could be the first sign that Maine waters are no longer cold enough.
We’ve experienced dramatic storms, droughts and wildfires of ever-increasing severity. But it may be these subtle, gradual changes that provide the strongest evidence that we should admit the obvious — we’re tampering with the Earth’s climate in a way that puts thousands of species, including ourselves, in peril.
As a nation, we’ve responded to environmental crises before. The toxic waste and foul odors that once plagued every major river system in the east have been largely abated by the 1972 Clean Water Act championed by Maine’s Sen. Edmund Muskie. The acid rain that was devastating forests and lakes from pollution by coal-burning power plants was substantially reduced by the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, authored by Sen. George Mitchell.
Recently, Mitchell reminded us that there was plenty of opposition back then. At an international conference in Northport last month, he said, “Then, as now, there are those who sought to deny science, who called acid rain a hoax, who imagined a conspiracy where none existed.”
The difference was that we managed to act 22 years ago. Our response to the broader challenge of global warming has instead been a mix of inattention, denial and inaction.
The last major national figure to call attention to the topic was Al Gore, who, by the end of the 2000 presidential campaign, was hardly mentioning it, so fierce was the opposition to doing anything, or even acknowledging the problem.
Mitchell had raised the alarm a year earlier in “World of Fire,” a book that plowed much of the same ground as Gore’s best-selling “Earth in the Balance.”
As we look toward the mid-21st century, it’s clear that denial isn’t serving us well. No one can infallibly predict the future, but there’s really no doubt that human contributions to global warming are significant and growing, and that any prudent species would at least be looking to reduce those contributions.
Think what our political debate would look like, if, as Mitchell urges, we adopted “the soundest, most current science” as our benchmark.
We have been doing some things right. Maine adopted tax credits for historic buildings that refocus development on our compact downtowns, which also happen to be the most beautiful, livable parts of our urban areas. We’ve encouraged the investment of $1 billion in windpower here, and the first major tidal power project will soon begin operation.
Unfortunately, we don’t often see these projects as investments in our future well-being that can’t solely be measured in dollars and cents. There are plenty of ways to make money. But not all of them contribute equally to a sustainable future.
Issues like sprawl and energy production inevitably require us to confront flaws in the status quo, which isn’t easy or comfortable. But the consequences of not doing so are becoming incalculable.
Again, Mitchell provides a timely summary. “How do we balance the need for continuity, and for change, in society?” he asked. “How can we ensure that future generations have more opportunities than we’ve had, not fewer?”
We can start by being honest and attentive. It might get us a lot farther than we think.
Douglas Rooks has contributed to Maine editorial pages for 25 years and writes for a variety of state, regional and national publications. He’s served as editor of Maine Times and editorial page editor for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, and lives in West Gardiner.
Canada’s federal government is hoping to improve the quality of maple syrup by funding a $1.7-million initiative to develop a special tool to test the quality of maple syrup.
For five years, Quebec’s Maple Research Centre has been developing a machine that could taste test the product.
Human taste testers try sampling an average of 250 barrels of syrup a day. These machines would do the work for them by calculating how certain compounds in the syrup react to light.
Depending on results, the new technology will determine if sugar has been added to the syrup or if there are taste defects in the batch.
Luc Lagacé, a researcher who has been developing the tool, said it will improve Canada’s reputation in the maple industry.
“We have a guarantee of quality for this product,” he said.
Most of the federal grant will be used for research to help determine the exact compounds of maple syrup.
Geneviève Béland, member of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers [FQMSP], said research shows that maple products have anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. But researchers believe the golden treat may have other health advantages.
If these benefits are discovered, the FQMSP said it would recommend using maple sugar in special diets, such as those of athletes and some diabetics.
Gov. Scott Walker is requesting federal agricultural disaster declarations for losses incurred this year by Wisconsin fruit tree growers and maple syrup producers.
The requests, made to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were announced Friday by the governor’s office.
The fruit tree loss request is for the entire state and the maple syrup loss request is for 14 counties in central and northern Wisconsin.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy and many farmers are hurting as a result of unseasonable weather over the last year,” Walker said in a news release. “The hot conditions in March, followed by a cold, wet April, damaged many crops, including Door County cherries and northern Wisconsin’s maple syrup harvest.”
If the requests are approved, affected growers and syrup collectors could possibly qualify for federal assistance.
State agriculture officials estimate losses to the state’s fruit trees, mainly made up of apples and cherries, could approach 80 percent.
The maple syrup losses in Barron, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix, Shawano and Vilas counties were more than 30 percent
IHOP brings in more money than any other family-style restaurant, but does it make the best pancakes?
Consumer Reports taste tested to see how IHOP pancakes stack up against the competition.
Testers went undercover to find who makes great-tasting buttermilk pancakes – eating at five major chains, including IHOP, Denny’s and Cracker Barrel.
“Now, an excellent pancake should be tender and moist, not wet and pasty,” Consumer Reports’ Tod Marks said. “When it comes to the flavors, you really want get that hint of the grain.”
IHOP claims its pancakes are “award-winning with…authentic country flavor.”
“The IHOP pancakes looked better than they tasted,” Marks said. “As the pancakes cooled, they became kind of tough.”
Denny’s pancakes tasted as if they came from a mix. So did ones from Country Kitchen.
The best pancakes came from Cracker Barrel and Perkins. They were cooked to a nice golden brown and tasted freshly prepared.
But even with the best restaurants, Consumer Reports found it’s better to order pancakes in the morning.
“When we ordered the pancakes off the all-day menu, we sometimes found that they picked up flavors of other foods cooked on the grill,” Marks said. “And frankly, they weren’t as good.”
As for the syrup, Cracker Barrel was the only restaurant where it contains real maple. Though it wasn’t 100 percent pure maple syrup, Cracker Barrel does serve it warm.
Consumer Reports compared pure maple syrup to a variety of other types to see which tastes best and found the result to be no contest. Hands down, real maple syrup tastes the best, it said. But you don’t want to overdo it, as there are 200 calories in a quarter cup, compared to 20 in sugar-free syrup.
Somerset County Maple Producers’ Association celebrated another successful maple season this past year during its annual meeting and banquet June 29 at Berlin Community Building with more than 100 attending.
The banquet is held every year after the producers’ harvest season and long after they have put away their equipment and filled their containers.
Everett Sechler, the president of the organization, welcomed the members and guests and conducted the business meeting. Matthew and Stephanie Emerick, Ed Emerick and his girlfriend, Diane Dunmeyer, all representing Emerick’s Pure Maple Products in Southampton Township, which was awarded the 2012 Maple King Award by John Wendel from Somerset Rotary Club, sponsor of the award. Maple king is a contest of maple products held the Friday prior to the Pennsylvania Maple Festival every spring. This year’s contest for maple king had more than 50 camps represented.
Both Matt and his father, Ed, work fulltime for the railroad out of Cumberland, Md., and they produce maple syrup in February and March as a hobby. Both have been maple king in the past.
Joel Friedline, representing Walnutdale Maple Farms, received this year’s Champion Syrup Award, sponsored by PNC Bank. Joel and Mary Friedline own and operate the camp along with Joel’s parents, Carna and Lowell Friedline. Joel’s brother, Jonathan, operates a dairy on the same farm, and Joel helps on the dairy farm as well as operates the camp. It’s truly a family activity at Walnutdale with aunt and uncle, Lynette and Dick Ely, also helping out.
Lynette Ely serves as secretary for the association and read the minutes from last year’s annual meeting. Kyle Hillegas, treasurer, gave the treasurer’s report. During this year, income came from Mountain Craft Days, container orders, membership dues, farm show and fair booth premiums and miscellaneous income in the amount of $53,845.
Expenses went out to advertising, the June banquet, business miscellaneous, Mountain Craft Days, container orders, state membership dues, mileage, postage, state meeting mileage, memorials, festival, postage, tax exempt status and miscellaneous in the amount of $58,057.
With a beginning balance of $14,701, the organization had an ending balance of $10,489 after expenses.
Also during the evening, Mary Friedline, activity director for the association, gave the activities report and reported that this year’s maple king contest was a banner year with many camps represented.
She explained that it had been a busy year, starting with such activities as Somerset County Fair in August and shortly afterwards, Mountain Craft Days in September, and then the Pa. Farm Show in Harrisburg in January, where Somerset County members received good scores.
Melissa Friend, president of the Maple Festival Association, explained that she admires both aspects of the complimentary team of maple producers on one hand and festival board members on the other.
“Both sides work so hard to enhance the maple industry,” said Friend. “There are several producers who volunteer at the festival and we appreciated everyone’s help.”
Miguel Saviroff, Extension agent at Penn State Cooperative Extension in Somerset, congratulated the producers for a good year and encouraged them as a viable county entity.
Queen Maple Hannah Taylor of Boswell said learning about maple production has been a rewarding experience and that she has had a very busy year so far attending various events, like National Day of Prayer, Berlin Block Party and Grantsville Days. She thanked her mother, Gretchen Brant, for being her biggest supporter.
State Rep. Carl Metzgar was unable to attend because he is working in Harrisburg, but Marcia Atkinson attended in his place and presented the producers with a Pa. State House of Representatives resolution.
The directors are Lynette Ely, Gus Kern, Matt Emerick, Kyle Hillegas, Ron Brenneman, Everett Sechler, Mary Friedline, Gary Blocher and Mike Lynch coming on board for the first time.
A musical group called ‘Prayzer’ presented the entertainment for the evening and several door prizes were handed out amid a severe summer thunder storm.
While most people think of corn and soybean crops as those most affected by this year’s weather, the maple syrup crop also took a huge hit.
T&K Farms in Cadiz, Kentucky, is one of the few farms in the state to even produce maple syrup. Tim Wagoner and his family have been tapping trees for five years and have been a growing business until this year.
Between the warm winter and the dry spring, sap stopped flowing and without sap, there’s no syrup.
“We ended up with 37 gallons for the entire year and we had almost 300 more trees that we tapped this year than we had the previous year,”said Wagoner. “The previous year, we made right at 100 gallons.”
There are 826 trees tapped on the T&K Farms, connected by more than three miles of tubes. From the last week in December until the last week in February, sap is supposed to slide through them into huge tubs.
Wagoner said usually, it takes around 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. This year, that number was off, too.
“This year for us and I don’t know if it’s because of the drought or the lack of temperatures, we averaged about 49 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup. I basically had enough syrup to meet all of my pre-orders and we kept about five gallons for ourselves,” he said.
Although the farm took a hit on syrup sales this year, the Wagoner’s aren’t giving up on the crop. They said luckily, they’ve been able to save each year just in case they had a tough season. Next year, they”d like to tap even more trees.
Gov. Scott Walker last week requested two federal disaster declarations for Wisconsin, in a bid to help farmers cope with losses resulting from extreme weather this year.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy and many farmers are hurting as a result of unseasonable weather over the last year,” Walker said. “The hot conditions in March followed by a cold, wet April damaged many crops including Door County cherries and northern Wisconsin’s maple syrup harvest.”
The governor asked the USDA for a disaster declaration for the entire state for anticipated losses in the fruit sector, including apples and cherries. Official estimates suggest that total losses for the state could be in the region of 80%.
At the same time, however, the Wisconsin Cherry Growers Association stated that, even though this year’s cherry crop is lower than would be expected ordinarily, they are available for purchase.
“We originally anticipated a crop of 500,000 pounds out of a potential 12 million pounds,” said the statement from Terry Sorenson, president of the Wisconsin Cherry Growers, Inc. “That number now looks to exceed 700,000 pounds. This allows for plenty of cherries for the local farm markets.”
Sweet cherries are already on the market and the harvest of tart cherries is expected to begin this week, which is three weeks earlier than usual.