The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family?s Quest for the Sweetest Harvest

Hardcover | March 4, 2014

byDouglas Whynott

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A year in the life of one New England family as they work to preserve an ancient, lucrative, and threatened agricultural art--the sweetest harvest, maple syrup...

How has one of America's oldest agricultural crafts evolved from a quaint enterprise with "sugar parties" and the delicacy "sugar on snow" to a modern industry?

At a sugarhouse owned by maple syrup entrepreneur Bruce Bascom, 80,000 gallons of sap are processed daily during winter's end. In The Sugar Season, Douglas Whynott follows Bascom through one tumultuous season, taking us deep into the sugarbush, where sunlight and sap are intimately related and the sound of the taps gives the woods a rhythm and a ring. Along the way, he reveals the inner workings of the multimillion-dollar maple sugar industry. Make no mistake, it's big business--complete with a Maple Hall of Fame, a black market, a major syrup heist monitored by Homeland Security, a Canadian organization called The Federation, and a Global Strategic Reserve that's comparable to OPEC (fitting, since a barrel of maple syrup is worth more than a barrel of oil).

Whynott brings us to sugarhouses, were we learn the myriad subtle flavors of syrup and how it's assigned a grade. He examines the unusual biology of the maple tree that makes syrup possible and explores the maples'--and the industry's--chances for survival, highlighting a hot-button issue: how global warming is threatening our food supply. Experts predict that, by the end of this century, maple syrup production in the United States may suffer a drastic decline.

As buckets and wooden spouts give way to vacuum pumps and tubing, we see that even the best technology can't overcome warm nights in the middle of a season--and that only determined men like Bascom can continue to make a sweet like off of rugged land.

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From the Publisher

A year in the life of one New England family as they work to preserve an ancient, lucrative, and threatened agricultural art--the sweetest harvest, maple syrup...How has one of America's oldest agricultural crafts evolved from a quaint enterprise with "sugar parties" and the delicacy "sugar on snow" to a modern industry?At a sugarhouse...

Douglas Whynott is the critically acclaimed author of four nonfiction books. He has written articles and essays for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Discover, Smithsonian, Outside, Islands, Reader's Digest, Yankee, and other publications. In True Stories, a history of literary journalism by Norman Sims published in 2008, Whynott i...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:March 4, 2014Publisher:Da Capo BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0306822040

ISBN - 13:9780306822049

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Shelf Awareness for Readers, 3/14/14“Whynott delves into the industry's particulars, shining light on its history, science and politics. Whynott's love for his subject is clear; his writing grows lyrical when he rhapsodizes about winter walks in the woods or the taste of pure maple syrup fresh off the boil A fascinating glimpse into an ancient process that feeds a thoroughly modern industry.”Roanoke Times, 3/9/14“Pass me the doughboys and a bottle of Grade A Light Amber, please.”Hudson Valley News, 3/5/14“DelightfulThis fascinating book tells us what we need to know about an undertaking that is steeped in tradition and is now embracing new technologies that can ensure its continuing existence. It's a sweet read.”Manchester Union-Leader, 3/8/14“Tells the story of the 2012 sugar season as well as Bascom's rise to being the largest maple syrup producer in the Granite State.”InfoDad, 3/13/14“An enthralling exploration of the maple-syrup industry and the people who keep this very old occupation (by American standards) going in the 21st centuryIntriguing and engaging.”