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Syrup-titiously delicious

Maple syrup is good for our precarious planet’s forests too

Some grumble when the snow arrives, but not members of the Pumpkin Creek Ski Club at Roseisle. They rejoice, naturally. They also start leaving treats on members’ doorsteps — cans of pure maple syrup, sold as club fundraisers.

Those cute little cans signal the start of ski season, and time to enjoy hearty breakfasts of pancakes these cold, dark mornings.

Maple syrup is one of those delicious, natural foods you can enjoy knowing the harvest of it contributes to a healthier planet too.

A recent study shows the forests in Quebec — where the PCSC’s syrup is sourced — to be ecological powerhouses. These forests, generally protected under Quebec law, provide over a billion dollars in ecosystem services that are “useful and essential to human well-being and do not, in many cases, have any man-made substitute.”

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Maple syrup forests store nearly a million metric tons of carbon each year, a carbon offset equivalent to 290,000 vehicles in a year.

These forests are also havens for other products such as berries and edible plants and they are places that beautify the Quebec countryside and provide sites for recreation and tourism.

The study assigns monetary value to services rendered by nature itself, a value often taken for granted, says the study’s author.

“The evaluation of ecosystem goods and services is an innovative new approach that’s being adopted more and more around the world,” said Groupe AGÉCO associate and study co-author Jean-Pierre Revéret. “The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has become a pioneer in its usage here in Quebec by applying it to the maple products sector.”

Quebec maple syrup producers have always been rightfully proud of their provincial specialty. This kind of study helps more of us who want to consume food produced in eco-friendly environments a better understanding of the benefits that accrue from our food choices.

Once a maple tree is used for maple syrup production, it is generally protected by Quebec law through a number of provisions and cannot be cut down. There are, however, millions more untapped maple trees in the province, and as such are at risk — like any tree that no one sees use for — of being cut down at any time.

That’s why groups like FPAQ have a reminder for us — that a switch from other sweeteners to something that’s good for the natural world is good for all of us.

One person per household substituting just one teaspoon of maple syrup or maple sugar each day for another sweetener puts two new maple trees into production, according to FPAQ (Federation du Producteurs Acéridoles du Quebec.), a group with a long history of connecting eaters with provincial syrup producers in innovative ways.

That’s one sweet deal. Bon appetit!

The two recipes below – and more – can be found on the Pure Canada Maple website.

Maple Beer Baked Ham

Could any recipe sound more Canadian than this sugar-shack inspired meal? Serve it with a side dish of maple baked beans for a truly Christmas-in-Canada treat.

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1-1/3 c. strong beer of your choice
  • 1 c. chicken or beef broth
  • 3/4 c. pure maple syrup from Canada, divided
  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5-1/2-lb. smoked pork shoulder (bone in)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and garlic, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add beer, chicken or beef broth, 1/2 cup maple syrup, mustard, cloves, cinnamon, coriander and pepper, whisking until well combined. Bring to a boil. Add pork to pot. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 F. Carefully remove pork from pot and transfer to a baking dish. Continue cooking liquid until reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup. Baste meat with maple glaze. Transfer to oven and bake until ham begins to crisp, about 20 minutes, basting with maple glaze every 5 minutes. Carve ham and serve with vegetables of your choice.

Recipe source: Pure Canada Maple

Maple Baked Beans

  • 16-oz. dried navy beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 6 c. water
  • 1 c. cubed salt pork
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. pure maple syrup from Canada
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large, ovenproof pot, add beans and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add pork, onion, maple syrup, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Remove lid. Cook another 45 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Recipe source: Pure Canada Maple

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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