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Maple syrup: Michigan’s superfood has room to grow - Gladwin County Record and Beaverton Clarion: Community

Maple syrup: Michigan’s superfood has room to grow

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Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 3:42 pm

Like most people, we have a lifelong desire to learn new things. We regularly attend association meetings and other educational gatherings to try to learn more about the topics that interest us. This past weekend we went to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association meeting held in Clare Michigan. They bring in a variety of speakers from in and out of the state of Michigan. Updates were provided on maple syrup production in Canada, Vermont and other New England states, and most importantly Michigan. We listened to a talk on proposed FDA regulations, and one on Michigan maple syrup grading standards. There are speakers covering what one needs to consider when they transition from making maple syrup as a hobby to making syrup for sale. Presentations were also offered on guidelines for tapping trees, and product labeling both for licensed inspected sugarhouses as well as “Cottage Law” maple syrup production. Bragging rights are assigned during the Michigan Maple Syrup Association Syrup Contest. This competition not only includes various grades of syrup but also maple cream and maple candy. If we had the technical expertise, we would certainly volunteer to judge that event! Yum! There were a good number of vendors from across the state of Michigan and beyond displaying syrup-making equipment, such as evaporators, reverse osmosis systems, tubing, spiles, and bottling tanks. Each vendor also brought assortments of bottles, labels, cookbooks, and other marketing items. Visiting the trade show and conversing with other maple producers large and small, fills us with information and ideas. This year’s annual meeting also included a guest speaker from Ontario Canada on the topic of maple syrup nutrition information. Maple syrup is considered a sweetener along with corn syrup, honey, brown sugar and white sugar. Nutrition of sweeteners may seem like a bit of an odd topic. Maple syrup is unique in that it is quite high in a number of nutrients. A one quarter cup serving of pure maple syrup provides the following percentages of the recommended daily values of the following minerals: 95% Manganese, 37% riboflavin, 6% zinc, 7% magnesium, 5% calcium, 5% potassium. Only honey comes anywhere near maple syrup in mineral value. Pure maple syrup also has fewer calories per serving than corn syrup based pancake syrup alternatives. Maple syrup also contains a compound called abcisic acid, also known as ABA. In plants ABA signals to the plant that the onset of winter is coming and causes the plant to make certain changes to enter dormancy. ABA has recently been shown to elicit potent anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects in mouse models. One of Cyndi’s former biochemistry professors at Virginia Tech has been researching ABA’s mode of action to reduce both gut and lung inflammation. ABA interacts with peroxisome proliferator- activated receptor-gamma to reduce inflammation and helps reduce the symptoms of influenza (lung inflammation) and to increase the release of insulin from the pancreas and decrease inflammation in the gut in diabetics. We certainly can’t claim that eating more maple syrup will cure all your ills, but it appears it may help. Michigan is an important state for maple syrup production. Ranked seventh in the US, Michigan produces around 100,000 gallons a year. Since only one percent of the maple trees in Michigan are currently used to produce syrup there is plenty of room for expansion. Anybody who grows or produces a commodity, whether it is soybeans or syrup, should be involved with their association to promote and market their commodity. Associations provide an opportunity to learn from industry experts, researchers and fellow producers. The Michigan Maple Syrup Association is promoting the maple syrup industry with Michigan Maple Weekend. Look for events in the northern, lower peninsula on March 23-23, 2013 on MMSA’s Facebook page. We will certainly be out to make our pure maple syrup and enjoy one of the first “signs” of spring.

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