I am curious to know what the difference is between organic maple syrup and plain maple syrup. Thank you.

Let me take you back through time a little on this one, because as recently as about 200 years ago, all food was basicaly organically grown. This is simply because there were little or no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides in existence...(the good ol' days) These days, however, we must watch out for these "big three" and more in all our foodstuffs.

Fertilizers...yes syrup producers have actually attempted spreading chemical fertilizers in their forests in a last gasp attempt to increase production...result: waste of money and ground water pollution... Pesticides: at the slightest sighting of any living creature in their woods, producers will spray bugs or poison-bait birds or squirrels. Herbicides: No sign yet...but stay tuned...

Have a look at all our organic maple products

Fortunately these days, conferences which I have attended are speaking in great depth about the importance of allowing a varied ecosystem to exist in a syrup producing forest. Organic agriculture implies this as you must have a mixture of tree and plant species in your maple bush. (I can go into greater depth here if you like)

Organic certification also means tapping restrictions. Only trees 8 inches or greater may be tapped, only trees 16" or larger may have one or two taps and only trees 24" or greater may have 1-2, or 3 taps. It is well proven that the fewer taps the better when it comes to long-term tree health, but short-term profit seekers have been know to do otherwise. An organic inspector verifies each maple bush each year to enforce these strict tapping rules. The inspector also verifies sugarhouse sanitation, equipment quality and paper audit trail.

In the sugarhouse, organic maple syrup can only be boiled in pans made of 100% stainless steel welded by tig welder — no more galvanized steel or lead soldering. Ditto for all collection and holding tanks, which must be up to food-grade specs. Also, strange additives have been concocted to try to get syrup to boil faster, or to try to finish cleared grade syrup (producers are paid with regards to colour) ex: peroxide; harsh cleansers like acids can be used to clean pans after the boiling process (only water is really needed, but it takes longer), the inspectors verifies the producers input records and cleanout logs...

Finally, the finished product must be stored in stainless steel barrels, or food grade equivalent, the regular stuff sits around in old galvanized or any other cheap barrel for years and years...yukkk. Let's also remember here that only organic production requires an annual inspection, other producers are simply on an honour system.

I hope this answers your questions, if you have any others, or would like clarification, please ask!

Richard Semmelhaack
farm manager, Gereli Farm