What happened to maple syrup? | TheUnion.com

What happened to maple syrup?

Sunday mornings are one of my favorite times of the week.

It's quiet in town and life seemingly slows down a bit for most folks. After reading the paper, I will often times fix a big breakfast — or as my daughter used to call it "brefkissed."

Part of the meal usually includes pancakes, waffles or French Toast with real maple syrup from real maple trees.

As a kid, I grew up on Log Cabin syrup. It was not until I was an adult that I realized my morning syrup was not maple syrup at all but rather a mix of chemicals to resemble maple syrup.

How can this be? How was I duped by thinking that my morning syrup was the real McCoy? Call it good marketing!

As it turns out, most name brands such as Log Cabin Original, Aunt Jemima Original, Mrs. Butterworth's Original, Hungry Jack Original (all made by Pinnacle Foods) and Kellogg's syrups contain no maple syrup at all (http://www.labelwatch.com).

Each one of these brands uses a mix of ingredients, including artificial flavors, to make their product and most use high fructose corn syrup (an industrialized processed sweetener which has been linked with obesity and diabetes) as the main ingredient. Make note that these so-called "foods" have to be manufactured and processed and are not naturally occurring.

On Log Cabin's website, they describe their "Original" syrup as follows:

"Log Cabin has been making authentic, maple tasting syrup for over 120 years." Notice the words "authentic maple tasting" and no mention of the word REAL maple syrup. I suppose with the right mix of chemicals, food companies can make anything "authentic tasting."

To be fair, they have recently changed their website product description removing "authentic and maple tasting" to simply "delicious."

When I travel, I make a point of trying to find the local spot to eat — especially for breakfast. My son recently turned me onto this cool phone app called Urbanspoon, which maintains a list of eateries (by town), offers reviews and menus.

This past week, I was in the Bay Area for a conference and used Urbanspoon to find a local breakfast place. Given that most restaurants do not serve real maple syrup, I have a habit of asking if they offer real or fake maple syrup.

Our waitresses' response to the question, "Do you offer real maple syrup?" at this particular restaurant was the motivation for this article.

When asked she said, "No, sorry, we do not have the good stuff. We only have the crap with chemicals in it."

I was taken aback by her brutal honesty, yet at the same time, I appreciated her candor and the fact she was that open with me.

Real maple syrup is naturally high in antioxidants, zinc and calcium.

When we buy real maple syrup, we are supporting farmers.

Read labels! Are you eating the real deal?

Kevin Cotter is managing partner for New Earth Market in Yuba City, http://www.newearthmarket.com/.