Maple Syrup and Other Magic Ingredients

It’s Maple season here in New Hampshire which gives those of us who consider ourselves Consumers a great opportunity to support our local and economy and those of us who enjoy the process of Producing a chance to support the local ecosystem. I was recently having a conversation with Mike, a local Hollis resident, who is busily tapping trees, collecting sap, and boiling syrup. He was excitedly telling me about the evolution of his homemade containment systems and heating apparatus and bottling procedures and it got me thinking about the magic of creating things that keeps us going back to basics.
I mean seriously, we have the science and technology to build underground nuclear reactors and microprocessor chips for our smart phones, but you just can’t replace the human experience of being part of the cycle of nature.  Hunting, foraging, farming, discovering bones, watching the sunrise, fishing, cooking, finding heart shaped rocks (a particular favorite activity of mine)…all of these activities connect us to something bigger, something universal, something primal, and something deeply satisfying.
As Mike and I were chatting about maple syrup he mentioned he had heard that most honey on the grocery store shelves is really just “corn syrup from China”. I had a hard time believing that could be the case, so, I did a little research on that outlandish claim…

And as it turns out: A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals!  A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.
Much of this questionable honey was officially banned beginning June 2010 by the 27 countries of the European Union and others. But on this side of the ocean, the FDA apparently checks few of the thousands of shipments arriving through 22 American ports each year.
As consumers who want to buy wholesome, delicious honey it is recommended that we choose only local honey produced in the US or better still buy raw honey from the many local beekeepers.
The mention of the European Union placing bans on imported honey made sense to me, in fact, a list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for use here in the American food supply recently made news. While I have written about some of those ingredients before, this list inspired me to look a little deeper and find out how pervasive this issue is for us. Could these banned ingredients be contributing to the higher mortality and disease rates here in the U.S.?  The list includes synthetic hormones (rBGH and rBST) found in dairy, BHA and BHT that are found in many boxed cereals, and coloring agents (blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6) found in many cake mixes, sodas, sports drinks, and even Macaroni and Cheese. These ingredients are considered toxic and are illegal in many other nations.  They are definitely not part of our ecology.  There’s no magic in artificial ingredients or the flourescent lights they are produced under.

It made me wonder why so many of us are settling for food devoid of nutrition and lives devoid of authentic experiences that teach us not only about ourselves, but connect us to nature, each other, and what many would consider spirituality.  Just taking a trip to a local farm or doing a little research on where your food is coming from can be a really empowering experience. Your choices DO have an impact on your world. Believe it!
As for me, I will be supporting Mike’s endeavors by purchasing some of his homemade maple syrup and by taking my kids out to check out some tap lines out in the woods at sunset. Maybe we’ll find a cool feather lying on the ground and be reminded of migrations and treetop nests. Maybe, I’ll find a heart shaped rock and give it to someone I love. All of our actions add up. What will you do to reconnect to the magic today?


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