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On New Maple Syrup Rules, I'll Cop To Added Sweetness — Never Sugar

Tasha Wallis
Members of the Wallis Family gather sap with a neighbor.

When we were small, my brothers and I would drink sap or pull beautiful round, slightly sweet, pieces of ice out of the buckets hanging on trees we passed walking home from the school bus. So I was really taken aback by the news that the Food and Drug Administration is requiring maple syrup and honey to say “added sugar” on their labels.

I’ve carefully reviewed my own family’s syrup operation to see how the Feds might have come up with such an idea:

When fourth-grader Jemma, sporting a big grin, used all her concentration, strength and an ancient drill to hang her first bucket, she might have added some sweetness.

Jeremy wrote his college essay about maple syrup and carried a jug of Vermont Pure to the dining hall most mornings. And it was sweet fun to rib him about providing an ‘authentic’ experience for our out-of-towner friends.

My sister-in-law recorded the sounds of sap hitting the bottom of metal buckets with a ping and sent them to me — a sweet sound.

And it was pretty sweet how my dad setup the wood fired evaporator, which we share with the neighbors, in the driveway, where he set himself up in a comfy chair and napped under an early spring sun, even though he'll insist he was always attentive.

After years of living in Vermont, my husband has now supervised his very first sap boil. It was sweet to see how attentively he stirred the pot.

Mom’s unique filtering system — suspended inside a step ladder — further concentrated the sweetness of the golden syrup.

But I probably didn’t add much sweetness when I was sent to the basement for more jars, grumbling all the way, about the cobwebs, poor lighting and eccentric organization.

I understand the guys in the Super Trooper movie downed the real thing in the maple syrupchugging scene. And I’m sure if anything had been added, they would have lapsed into such a sugar coma there never could’ve been a sequel.

I’ll admit there’s a lot of sweetness in maple syrup.

It’s tasty, excellent on pancakes and pretty good in my morning coffee. I can even confirm that from first tap to final product, the syrup gets sweeter.

But I am 100 percent certain that there’s no sugar added.

Tasha Wallis served in the administrations of Governors Howard Dean and Jim Douglas. Currently, she is Executive Director of the Lamoille County Planning Commission. She lives in Morrisville with her husband Kevin Goddard.
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