Organic vs. Non-Organic Maple Syrup
All maple sap is unadulterated and pure – it comes directly from nature without any human intervention or chemical processes. So why would a maple syrup producer feel that organic certification is important? Organic certification guarantees good, clean practices from sapling to syrup. To us, this reflects our ecological and social values, and it also speaks to our love and respect for the forests where we live.
Certified organic maple syrup is made according to specific guidelines and regulations that cover forest management, processing, and storage to ensure that no chemicals or other inorganic products are used at any point in production. The extra work that this entails, and the certification fee, leads to the higher cost of certified organic maple syrup.
The following restrictions and guidelines apply for certified organic maple syrup producers.
- We must keep production plans, production records, sales records, inventory records, product traceability, and site maps on file for both the FPAQ (if in Québec) and our organic certifier.
- We must have buffers surrounding our maple bush if it is situated beside farmland (for example, Christmas tree lots) that use non-organic products such as pesticides.
- We must ensure that at least 15% of the trees in our sugar bush are not sugar maples in order to maintain forest diversity. The undergrowth in our forests may not be cut, and fertilizer use is limited to wood ash, lime, or other approved organic fertilizers.
- We must not use poison as a form of animal control. Large and small animals can damage sap lines for a number of different reasons, at Cosman & Webb Townships Organic we accept and repair all damage, and no harm comes to any animal.
- We must install protectors on our lines for collecting maple sap (if applicable) to avoid damaging the maple trees.
- We must ensure our maple trees have a diameter of at least 20cm to be tapped once; at least 40 cm to be tapped twice; and at least 60cm to be tapped a maximum of three times in one season. *New research shows that installing more than one tap per tree in a season doubles the tree's scar tissue while resulting in only about 30% more sap. For the long-term health and sustainability of the forest, we have decided to install a single tap per tree per season, no matter what the size of the tree.
- We must use only food-grade ethyl as a disinfectant for cleaning tap holes (to ensure there is no bacteria in the tap hole when the tree is tapped). *Non-organic maple syrup producers can use any variety of chemicals as disinfectants during the maple season.
- We must ensure that no mineral components of sap are removed during the reverse osmosis process.
- We must only use stainless steel pans, and only certified organic oils as de-foamers. During the boiling season, we can only use water for cleaning these pans, and vinegar or fermented sap for cleaning at the end of the season.
Cosman & Webb maple syrup and maple sugar is certified organic through Ecocert Canada.