All around the world, the province of Quebec is known for its poutine and maple syrup. Preferably, not together, but I am seeing a lot of people do some pretty weird things with poutine these days. (Just a quick online search found multiple recipes for “maple-bacon poutine”; Yikes!) Good news though: you no longer have to wait for your weekend batch of pancakes (or poutine) to enjoy the taste of maple syrup. Quebec producers are tapping into something new and exciting; maple water!
Maple syrup is already widely used as a healthy sweetener in a lot of food and drinks. Now, this sweet sap can be found in bottled water. Basically, what you’re getting is hydration benefits similar to ordinary water, only with a hint of maple sweetness. It’s harvested in the springtime, and many of the Quebec-based maple water products claim to be organic and free of all pesticides and pollutants. A CBC News report says it’s actually being described as a health drink thanks to its high antioxidant content. In fact, the “superwater” contains 46 different vitamins and minerals.
Where has this been all your life, you ask? Don’t get too excited yet. Experts say it may not be as healthy as the producers claim, and that its “superwater” status is a marketing ploy. One Montreal-based nutritionist tells CBC that the key ingredient in maple water is sugar. It’s not refined sugar, which means the product is certainly not terrible for you. But, he says it’s always better to get your antioxidants from actual fruits and vegetables. True enough, but maple water has fewer calories in it than coconut water, and that’s got to count for something.
Regardless, it was time for maple syrup producers to spread their wings. Quebec leads the world’s maple syrup industry; in 2010, 7,989,000 gallons of the stuff was harvested in the province. But, competition south of the border is growing. In New York state, for example, maple syrup production has grown from five to 10 percent every year over the last few years. Statistics Canada and the U.S. Department of Agriculture say Quebec’s share of global output has fallen from a high of 82 percent in 2003, to 71 percent in 2016. Maple water is no doubt the province’s attempt at shaking the industry up. and a smart one at that. With so much emphasis these days on “detox” juicing, and antioxidant-infused waters, the producers are smart to break-in to the ‘healthy living’ mindset.
I live in Quebec, and I have to admit I haven’t seen this product or even heard of it until recently. Apparently, the demand for the maple water is most intense in France, Belgium, Japan, Australia, and Germany. That makes sense since you often want what you don’t naturally have. Maple syrup is strictly made in North America, so no wonder other countries are crazy about it. The product isn’t unique to Quebec, though; some producers in Vermont are also putting a similar drink out, but admit they got the idea while visiting Canada.
I guess it doesn’t really matter where the idea originated. What does matter, is the delicious taste of maple is more widely available now. Whether or not it’s as good for you as they say, I think it’s nice to see yet another product from a natural resource being enjoyed by people around the world.