For the Love of Organics: Maple Syrup

Gathering maple tree sap to make sweet syrup for food and medicine is an ancient practice created by the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Wabanaki people of northeastern North America.1 From pancakes to salmon, the sweet syrup was, and still is, used to cure meats, sweeten bitter medicines, and bring a warm sugary and woody flavour to breakfasts and dinners alike. This thousands-of-years-old tradition continues to offer a spoonful of manganese, potassium, and antioxidants with its syrupy sweetness.2

Isn’t All Maple Syrup Organic?

Natural Grocers Brand Organic Maple SyrupThere is a common misconception that organic and conventional maple syrups are not all that different. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While the use of pesticides may not be common, they are still used in conventional syrup production, including the use of glyphosate. But there’s so much more to organic maple syrup production. The organic certification includes an extensive list of requirements to protect biodiversity in the sugar bush (forest of maple trees) including other plants, animals, and microorganism. Other plants, animals, and insects are encouraged to live in and around the maple trees, keeping the soils rich and diverse, as opposed to monocropping. In Vermont, these specifications also include maintaining a range of young and old maples. To protect the soil and water in the area, nearby roads must be kept to a minimum and tapped trees cannot be marked with prohibited substances like synthetic paints. There are limits and specification for how many taps per tree and where to place them.3 Organic maple syrup certification means sustainably keeping whole forests biodiverse and thriving.

A Drizzle of Heavy Metals and Trans Fats? No Thank You!

Image of waffle with syrup and a dollop of butterThe requirements for organic certification don’t stop in the sugar bush.4 Organic producers cannot use galvanized containers at various points in the processing, which are known to leach lead.5 Meanwhile, conventional syrup producers often add synthetic defoaming agents that contain mono- and di- glycerides (man-made trans fats)—the final product is highly concentrated, which means every ingredient added in will be as well. Another common additive in nonorganic syrup is polyethylene glycol, derived from ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze.6 Yikes! Keep that away from our pancakes!

Keeping it Sweet with Carbon Sinks

When we think about organic, we may imagine the field where the crop grows, or in this case a forest lush with maple trees, birds singing from their branches, while rabbits build burrows below. The organic forest is alive with diversity from soil to sky. It just so happens that maple trees forests are also rich carbon sinks, drawing carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it deep into the earth and the tree’s roots, branches, and leaves. In Maine, one of the U.S.’s biggest maple syrup producing states, an estimated 550 million metric tonnes of carbon are stored by maple and birch trees.7 Diversification is an important part of creating carbon sinks, and so choosing organic maple syrup means choosing biodiverse forests storing carbon.

Keeping nasty additives, pesticides, and heavy metals out of maple syrup is important so the salmon and pancakes can stay sweet. So go ahead and drizzle it on, just be sure it’s organic!


Meet Your Farmer - Tree to Table Tree to Table

From the trees in the forests of New England to the pancakes on your table, learn the story behind Natural Grocers® Brand Organic Maple Syrup and tap into goodness.

Watch The Film


Maple Mocha MousseTry Our Maple Mocha Mousse

A rich and creamy dairy-free chocolate mousse? Yes, please! The velvety texture combined with dark chocolate and espresso kick makes this the perfect treat on a cool autumn evening.




  1. Munshi, B. (2022, March 1). Decolonizing Maple Syrup. Life & Thyme.
  2. USDA Food Central Database - Syrups, Maple. (2019). Retrieved July, 2023.
  3. Nargi, L. (2019, April 9). Could maple syrup be a climate change solution?. Civil Eats.…
  4. Vermont Organic Farmers. (2016). Guidelines for Certification of Organic Maple Sap & Syrup. Retrieved from….
  5. Isn’t all maple syrup organic? Vermont Evaporator Company. (2021, June 2).
  6. Pope, S. (2020, July 12). Maple Syrup Truths Revealed: Time to switch brands?. The Healthy Home Economist.
  7. Carbon Sequestration Facts. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (n.d.).…