Thursday, 18 December 2014



The Platonic Ideal of Maple Syrup


Canadian maple syrup is as American as apple pie. This country produces some 84-per-cent of the world’s supply. Our good friends south of 49 are responsible for the balance. The sickly sweet goo might be our national condiment. There are worse things, some nations’ signature delicacies are buried or left to rot before serving.


The Edmonton Journal this week reported that the International Maple Syrup Institute and Agriculture Canada have agreed to replicate the United States’ product descriptors on Canadian maple syrup labels. These discussions took a decade to reach a semantic consensus. Essentially, the existing grades of Canada No. 1 and Canada No. 2 will now read instead something like ‘golden’ and ‘amber’ respectively. It doesn't get any sweeter.


Federal grading and labeling regulations serve a higher purpose, the country’s citizens. Red tape is there for our protection and to ensure the producers of certain commodities are recognized for the quality of their wares. Rules are the bane of marketers which is why snake oil is now described as lite, homeopathic, gluten-free or organic. If you examine your shampoo bottle in the shower tomorrow, you’ll note that the main ingredient is listed as aqua – it reads so much better than water.

Still, not all marketers are oily. And nobody except Avis really wants to sell anything branded number two. It’s all about perception. Already there is trickle down from the maple syrup lobby’s victory. Canadian poultry farmers are petitioning Ottawa to rebrand the Canada Utility grade rating. Insiders say they’re flying on a wing and a prayer because they haven’t a leg to stand on.

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