Sunday, January 29, 2012

Maple Syrup

The tapping of trees for maple syrup was practiced in north america for thousands of years before the arrival of the immigrants. The French adopted its use early on and it's a tradition that has had a noticeable impact on the St. Lawrence River valley. Maple syrup also has a history as one of the earliest examples of socially responsible purchasing. Slavery lords of the south produced much of the sugar in the United States in the early to mid 19th century. For abolitionists, maple syrup became an alternative source of sweetener to divert funds from the economic clout of the slave owners, as were other agricultural products similarly boycotted as part of the Free Produce Movement. Interestingly, the Free Produce Movement began in the 1790's and lasted until the 1850's. Somewhat parallel to today with fair-trade and organic goods, the "Free Produce" products never were able to compete economically with slave labor products. Though, one could say "Free Produce" is finding a more enlightened market in the 21st century, ultimately people have to value their ethics of human rights and environmental responsibility more than saving money...