15 December 2016

Blame Canada!

French Canadian oligarchs are sweet.
Americans are focused on the wrong border. It’s not Mexico, with all this dubious talk about building a wall, but Canada, with its Mounties, and comedy writers who move among us, betrayed only by the occasional mispronunciation of “about,” that threatens our way of life. If this nation was not founded on the free flow of syrup, it should have been. And now, as anyone with kids can tell you, the price of syrup has remained stable and high; it’s more expensive than oil. Is it Arab sheikhs who did this, Russian oligarchs? No. It’s Canadians, who, organized into an ironfisted cartel, have established a stranglehold on that honey-flavored elixir. 
In short, FPAQ—the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers—is OPEC. Formed in 1966, the federation was tasked with taking a business in which few could make a decent living—the price went north to south with the quality of the yield, which went north to south with the quality of the spring—and turning it into a respectable trade. This was accomplished in the classic way: quotas, rules. You control supply, you control price. You limit supply, you raise price. Because Quebec makes 72 percent of the world’s maple syrup, it’s been able to set the price. As of this writing, the commodity is valued at just over $1,300 a barrel, 26 times more expensive than crude. . . . I discovered this for myself on a recent trip to the supermarket. My son returned from the shelves with a small artisanal jug of Canadian syrup—“genuine maple” has prospered in concert with the boom in organic food—which cost . . . $15! It shocked me. I stormed up the aisle to see for myself, where I discovered Aunt Jemima, companion of so many Sunday mornings, in her babushka, costing just four bucks for a family-size jug. When I asked the cashier to explain this discrepancy, she pointed rudely at Aunt Jemima and said, “ ‘Cause that’s not real syrup.”
From Vanity Fair.

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