Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Who Knew?

Put enough of anything anywhere and they will come. To steal it.

If you've ever had pancakes, french toast, waffles, or some other breakfast food and used pure maple syrup you might have unwittingly been using stolen maple syrup. You have been receiving stolen property. Send it back. The Royal Canadian Police might be after you, and you know their reputaion.

The news item in Saturday's WSJ was revealing on many fronts. It seems, in the Journal's words, "some sticky-fingered thieves" made off with a haul of $30 million Canadian dollar's worth of maple syrup from a "little known strategic reserve in rural Quebec." (It's $30.4 US dollars for the conversion minded.)

Further revealed is that Quebec produces about 75% of the world's maple syrup. This we did not know.

My annual trip upstate for continuing equine prophesy credits usually finds me in Vermont when class is not in session. This occurs on Tuesdays. Since I like waffles, and I've come to like pure maple syrup, I usually buy a gallon of Dark Amber in the Jolley convenience store at a Mobil station in Fair Haven, Vermont.

This sounds totally unrustic. Getting your maple syrup where you can also get motor oil, soda and beer doesn't sound right. But forget that country barn crap. The price is right. The gallon size is the best buy per unit pricing, and this year it went for $44 US dollars.

Thus, the haul from the strategic reserves, I would guess based on my retail street value, amounts to a truly astounding 690,909 gallons. This is a heist. Or a bookkeeping error. Is there any left?

Aunt Jemima and Log Cabin syrup long ago stopped claiming there was any maple syrup in their product. It became way too expensive to leave on a diner table and have Billy create a lake of it around his breakfast.

But, as anyone who has tasted real maple syrup knows there is a difference between it any other type of syrup and it's worth it if you can get your hands on it. Or steal it.

So, somehow, persons unknown managed to pump nearly 700,000 of the tree nectar and make off with it. We've all watched enough TV to know that there needs to be a "fence" involved. Who do you sell 700,000 gallons to who can then repackage and redistribute it back to the consumer? Unless it's art, when you steal something you generally try and sell it. This is big.

The gallon that I buy is labeled that it comes from the Vallee Farm, St. Albans, Vt. There is some kind of Vermont seal on the jug to make me feel that it's coming from the source. Maybe it is. Or, maybe it comes from some underground tank, pumped into a jug, and labeled as if some farm family worked very hard and late and into the starry night to create to the product.

As anyone who has read some recent Vermont Life magazine stories knows, the image of tin buckets hung from maple trees to collect the spring sap has been replaced by tubing that connects the trees and delivers the sap to a central spot.

Thus, there is some modernization in collecting the sap that is boiled off to leave the syrup, but the huge storage reserve part of it was unknown. A strategic reserve of maple syrup, hidden somewhere in rural Quebec. A James Bond plot involving Goldfinger.

Or Stickyfinger. The media is alerted.


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