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A year in the life of one New England family as they work to preserve an ancient, lucrative, and threatened agricultural art--the sweetest harvest, maple syrup...
How has one of America's oldest agricultural crafts evolved from a quaint enterprise with "sugar parties" and the delicacy "sugar on snow" to a modern industry?
At a sugarhouse owned by maple syrup entrepreneur Bruce Bascom, 80,000 gallons of sap are processed daily during winter's end. In The Sugar Season, Douglas Whynott follows Bascom through one tumultuous season, taking us deep into the sugarbush, where sunlight and sap are intimately related and the sound of the taps gives the woods a rhythm and a ring. Along the way, he reveals the inner workings of the multimillion-dollar maple sugar industry. Make no mistake, it's big business--complete with a Maple Hall of Fame, a black market, a major syrup heist monitored by Homeland Security, a Canadian organization called The Federation, and a Global Strategic Reserve that's comparable to OPEC (fitting, since a barrel of maple syrup is worth more than a barrel of oil).
Whynott brings us to sugarhouses, were we learn the myriad subtle flavors of syrup and how it's assigned a grade. He examines the unusual biology of the maple tree that makes syrup possible and explores the maples'--and the industry's--chances for survival, highlighting a hot-button issue: how global warming is threatening our food supply. Experts predict that, by the end of this century, maple syrup production in the United States may suffer a drastic decline.
As buckets and wooden spouts give way to vacuum pumps and tubing, we see that even the best technology can't overcome warm nights in the middle of a season--and that only determined men like Bascom can continue to make a sweet like off of rugged land.
Beverly Citizen, 3/15/14
[A] fascinating exploration of the maple syrup industry Part business case study and part John McPhee nonfiction adventure into the depths of a subjectas told by a host of driven, devoted and talented characters. Whynott's comprehensive lay of the land includes climate change, the transformation of syrup production into a bankable industry, the interdependent community of syrup makers, the forests and their health, the process of making syrup and the complexity of the syrup itself.”
Easthampton Valley Advocate (Ma), 3/13/14
Shows the business of maple sugaring as a sophisticated, complex industry, subject, like all industries, to market forces and circumstances beyond producers' control.”
Toronto Globe and Mail, 3/22/14
Provides keen insights into this particular branch of modern agriculture, and makes a strong case for maple syrup as a bellwether for the continent's environmental health.”
The Writer, May 2014
An in-depth contemplation of the maple syrup industry.”
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 4th March 2014
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Edition Number: 1
Edition Type: Digital original