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The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest
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Da Capo Press 2014
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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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Street Date:
03/04/2014
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780306822056
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APA Citation (style guide)

Douglas Whynott. (2014). The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest. Da Capo Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Douglas Whynott. 2014. The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest. Da Capo Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Douglas Whynott, The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest. Da Capo Press, 2014.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Douglas Whynott. The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest. Da Capo Press, 2014.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        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 is described as “an accomplished master of the literary journalism of everyday life."
        His book about migratory commercial beekeepers, Following the Bloom, was published in 1991 by Stackpole Books, in 1992 by Beacon Press in the Concord Library Series, and in 2004 in a Penguin/Tarcher edition with a new preface and epilogue. It was optioned for development as a feature film. Giant Bluefin, his book about the New England bluefin tuna fishery, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in hardcover in 1995 and North Point Press in paperback in 1996. It was a highly recommended selection in the New York Review of Books Reader's Catalog and was reviewed widely, including a feature on NPR's “All Things Considered." A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time, a book about a boatyard in Maine owned by the son of E. B. White, was an independent bookstore bestseller, and was read in its entirety on an NPR books program at the affiliate in Ames, Iowa. It was published by Doubleday in 1999, by Washington Square Press in 2000. Australian rights were purchased by Hodder Headline. A Country Practice, his book about a veterinary clinic and a woman just out of vet school, was published by North Point Press in 2004. It was optioned for development as a television series by Creative Convergence, and selected as one of the best 10 nonfiction books of 2004 by New Hampshire Public Radio.
        Whynott has taught writing and literature at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College, and Columbia University. He is currently an associate professor of writing in the Writing, Literature and Publishing Program at Emerson College, where he served as director of the MFA program from 2002-2009. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at the University of the Andes, Bogota, Colombia in the spring of 2013. In addition to his writing and teaching, he has been at different times a concert piano tuner, a dolphin trainer, a commercial fisherman, and a boogie-woogie pianist. Whynott is an eleventh generation Cape Codder. He lives in Langdon, a small town in southwestern New Hampshire.

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shortDescription

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...

isOwnedByCollections
True
title
The Sugar Season
fullDescription

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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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 24, 2014
        This inside look at the ups and downs of the maple syrup industry over its year-long harvesting and production cycle will be fascinating to anyone interested in the modern food industry, the effect of global warming on agriculture, and just how that sweet syrup got from a stand of sugar maples to the breakfast table. Whynott (Following the Bloom) follows the work and life of Bruce Bascom, whose Bascom Farms produced 23,900 gallons of maple syrup in 2010, "more than a fourth of the maple crop for the state of New Hampshire." But the main part of the book is a look at how that syrup is produced, which requires Bascom to harvest almost 70,000 gallons of sap a day, boil and refine it into a range of flavors, and sell it to buyers nationwide. Whynott introduces the reader to "The Federation," an OPEC-style organization that was formed to monitor and police production and price activity in what is now a multimillion-dollar industry. The last quarter of the book is both enlightening and alarming, as Whynott details how the slowly rising temperatures are affecting the industry, as milder winters bring earlier maple sap flows and forcing business to tap their trees "about a month earlier than they used to." As one long-time maple harvester says, sugar maple trees "are just like humans, in that sap is like blood. They are very sensitive, and that's why they are in danger from climate change."

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 15, 2014
        An inside look at the maple syrup industry. From small, family-operated sugarhouses that use metal buckets to collect sap to mega-million-dollar outfits that run thousands of miles of plastic tubing over hundreds of acres of maple trees, Whynott (Writing/Emerson Coll.; A Country Practice: Scenes from the Veterinary Life, 2004, etc.) takes readers behind the often closed doors of the syrup industry in both the United States and Canada. Closely following one man's year of operation, the author examines the proper weather conditions required for the sap to run, explains in detail the process of reverse osmosis, which reduces the amount of water in the sap and thereby concentrates the sugar content, and chronicles the sometimes-risky business of buying and selling sap and syrup based on projections and borrowed money. Whynott provides details on the shapes, styles and designs of sugarhouses and explains how syrup is graded. Through extensive meteorological data and numerous statistics--e.g., one man's 63,865 taps produced 1,373 gallons of syrup during a seven-hour boil, the 2010 U.S. production was 20 million pounds, while the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, with more than 7,000 members, made five times that amount in 2012--Whynott shows the intimate, almost reverent relationship the maple producers have with their trees. They have been handed down from generation to generation like prized family heirlooms, valued not only for their moneymaking abilities, but for their majesty and beauty. Also evident is the deep concern syrup producers have regarding climate change, as the entire industry is dependent on certain weather conditions. These conditions are in constant flux, placing a multimillion-dollar industry in possible jeopardy. Thorough research provides fascinating insight into the sweet business of maple syrup.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 1, 2014

        Whynott (writing & literature, Emerson Coll.; A Unit of Water, a Unit of Time) follows Bascom Maple Farms president Bruce Bascom, his family, and his employees through the 2012 season at Bascom's Maple Farm in the New Hampshire mountains, which saw one of the earliest syrup tappings in history. As he explores Bascom's experiences with making maple syrup and sugar and his development as an equipment supplier, Whynott examines both the complicated past of the maple syrup industry and questions about its future. Though technology has moved the business forward, the need to preserve its natural beginnings (as global warming wreaks havoc) has become an important issue. In a world where one barrel of syrup is worth more than a barrel of oil, Whynott's descriptions of black market dealings and syrup heists highlight the value of this sweet crop. VERDICT Balancing the global history of the maple syrup trade with its local impact, The Sugar Season immerses readers in a reading experience both historical and personal in nature.--Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest
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