This post has been rattling around in my head for almost a year!
Last summer, my husband, daughter and I were staying at a mountain cabin we share with other family members. We took some time to clean out the refrigerator and pantry….Nothing was rotten, just tossing things that had expired, dressings that were mostly empty, etc. You know those mystery mustards, oils, random canned items. I even found boxes of lime jello that expired in 2004 (I would have tossed those expired or not!)
In the back of the refrigerator, I found 2 mostly empty bottles of Log Cabin syrup. It was expired, but I was going to toss it anyway. It has been years since I have bought that stuff, so I took a moment to read the ingredient label. YIKES!
It got me to thinking how many people aren't really aware that most of these syrups that are sold at the store are NOT maple syrup at all! It is shocking to me because nowhere on the label do these products say ‘maple syrup' but most consumers do not know the difference.
They aren't real maple syrup folks! They are a combo of high fructose corn syrup, fake colors and artificial flavors…essentially poison, in my opinion!
We all know, somewhere in the back of our brains, that maple syrup comes from maple sap from maple trees. In my mind, I have images of some frosty morning, gathering the sap and making the syrup. I have never actually done that, but I read Little House in the Big Woods so many times as a child…so I feel like I have! 🙂
According to World's Healthiest Foods, “the sap is clear and almost tasteless and very low in sugar content when it is first tapped. It is then boiled to evaporate the water producing syrup with the characteristic flavor and color of maple syrup and sugar content of 60%.”
Unfortunately, Big Food has taken over and even a simple, delicious treat as maple syrup has been corrupted and most of the syrups today are totally fake!
If you start to look closely at your grocery aisle, you will see, many of the brands are called ‘syrup' or ‘table syrup' or ‘maple-flavored syrup'. This is because only 100% pure maple syrup can be called ‘maple syrup'.
There are different grades of maple syrup Grade A and Grade B. Many people say that Grade B is more nutrient rich, and this seems to be the case. It also, however, has a more pronounced flavor.
I have never really worried over Grade A or Grade B. In fact, this year the labeling is changing and there will just be Grade A, with 4 varying colors. Again, sometimes too much information overwhelms me….I just like to be sure I have real maple syrup!
In order to investigate these ‘maple flavored syrups', I decided to take a little field trip to my local grocery store to see how many maple syrups there really are in the aisle and to do a little detective work on the ingredients!
First of all, I am amazed at how many ‘syrups' there are in your average grocery store! It is mind-boggling to choose. I counted over 42 different types of syrup. Approximately 30 of those were not true maple syrup and 12 of them were real.
Yes, the fake stuff is cheaper than the real stuff. Of course it is….it is made with government subsidized, genetically modified corn products and all sorts of cheap chemicals. This is why they make it in the first place. Cheaper to make and the companies can make more profit!
In this post I will show you how to determine the fake from the real and give you resources at the end on where to buy real maple syrup!
Here are the deets on the pretend maple syrup:
The above are two popular brands of syrup. Look at those ingredients!
High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup most likely made from GMO corn.
Caramel coloring which absolutely nothing to do with the caramel you might make in your kitchen and has been linked to cancer.
Sodium benzoate which is a preservative which has been linked to adhd, asthma and more.
Then there was this one. Look it says “No high fructose corn syrup” in big letters so this one has to be better right?!
Ha! Not so fast. Take a look at these ingredients!
There no hcfs but there are:
regular corn syrup, the caramel coloring, toxic preservatives and phosphoric acid which has been kidney trouble and bone fractures.
Yum! I really do not want my child eating this garbage on her pancakes. Ugh.
Then there is this one that really made me mad! Look, it is in this nice, opaque bottle, which is what many real maple syrups are sold in. And, phew, no hcfs again! What a relief! (said sarcastically)
Here are the ingredients. While not as bad as the previous ones, this still IS NOT true maple syrup!
Now here is one where I really laughed out loud…Sugar Free Syrup. Real Maple Syrup IS sugar. If you are that concerned about sugar, don't use syrup.
In addition to all the garbage ingredients mentioned above, this one also contains 3 different artificial sweeteners. This is about as fake a food product as you can get!
I do have funny side story….When researching for this post, I was standing in the syrup aisle, taking my photos, when a husband and wife started bickering over which syrup to buy. She wanted the real stuff, he wanted the cheap stuff. I kept quiet, not wanting to butt in. After awhile, however, I said ‘That stuff isn't even maple syrup. It is just HCFS, caramel coloring and maple flavor…essentially poison.' The man glared at me. The woman said ‘told you so.' They bought the real stuff. I also shared some ideas on how to source the syrup to get a better deal (see end of this post!). A friend of mine told me I was changing the world, one grocer customer at a time! HAHAHA!
Anyhoo…back to the post! What also infuriates me is the number of ‘pancake houses' that use the fake stuff! It happens all the time!
Look, here is a ‘to go' syrup we got from a well-known, not cheap, breakfast spot…UGH!
Trust me, next time you are at your favorite breakfast spot, ask…hey is this real maple syrup? I guarantee, the waiter will be confused and if you ask for the container, it will be nothing but the fake stuff.
This will be a golden opportunity for you to request that the restaurant start using the real deal. I have already made this my mission at my favorite breakfast spot where I live in the Chicago area!
Okay, I hear you…you are saying, ‘hey, we only use maple syrup on rare occasions, why does this matter! Why should we spend more money on the real deal?'
Well folks, I like to always have the ‘real deal' in my home and never want to, knowingly, feed my family what I believe is poison for the body, no matter how rarely I use the product. I try my best to choose nourishing ingredients as often as possible. We get enough of that outside the house! Let's have what is in our house be the real stuff!
You vote with your dollar EVERY SINGLE DAY. Don't let maple syrup trip you up!
Real maple syrup is more expensive, but I will tell you, that you will use so much less of it because real maple syrup tastes more maple-y! It is a flavor that they can not recreate in a lab. You don't need to douse your pancakes and waffles in real syrup, because a little goes a long way.
Real maple syrup also has NUTRIENTS, yes that is right actual nutrients that can help your body! Now, it is still sugar and should be used sparingly, but the little you do use will add to the nutrient density of your diet!
According to World's Healthiest Foods, real maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc. And Nourishing Traditions says that it also has plenty of trace minerals to boot.
Real maple syrup is great for baking! I use it all the time in lieu of refined sugar and it adds a depth of flavor that I really enjoy! I love using it in Oh Lardy's Frozen Granola Bars.
Now your grocery store will have real maple syrup options. I counted over 10 at the store I visited. Look for the words “Pure Maple Syrup” or “100% pure maple syrup”. And when you look at the ingredients, what do you think you will see? 1 ingredient…drum roll please…maple syrup!
There are many other ways to source maple syrup. It is usually more cost effective, in my opinion, to shop online. I like to buy a gallon size jar and I transfer some to a smaller jar for my refrigerator and store the larger jar in my basement.
What kind of maple syrup do you use? Do you ever buy the fake stuff? Would love to know your thoughts!
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