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Cool Kids

Tina Hartell

I really don’t know much about hipster culture, and I certainly couldn’t ask one because living in rural Vermont there’s not a hipster to be found within 20 miles. So I did what any self-respecting Gen-Xer would do, I consulted Wikipedia.  

“The hipster subculture is composed of affluent or middle class young... broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility ..., generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles.The subculture typically consists of white millennials living in urban areas”

They seem cool. But clearly Buzzfeed doesn’t think so because anytime you drop the f-bomb in the title about a group, it seems like there could be a level of anger and fear that might be more appropriately directed at, say, the GOP than a group of people fortunate enough to have some extra cash to spend on food. 

Does Buzzfeed think that maple syrup is made in some DUMBO commercial kitchen by someone wearing distressed jeans, amazing glasses, and riding a fixed-gear bike? In reality, the maple industry is made up of really unhip farmers. I missed being a hipster by like 15 years. I generally throw on long underwear, 20-year old clogs (that was a good buy), and head to the sugarhouse after dropping my kids off at preschool. 

In this case, Buzzfeed equates hipster with expensive and being daft enough to buy expensive food made by individual people (not General Mills) who tricked them into it with excellent graphic design. As many people know, making maple syrup is a labor of love. But keeping in mind the individual who wrote in the comment thread, “It's hard to stab a tree and let nature do the rest.” Here's why it is. 

Labor: In our case

    ~ felling, bucking, splitting, and stacking 12 cord of wood every year

    ~ cruising the 40-acre sugarbush with 10 miles of tubing more than 10x a season 

    ~ slogging around in snowshoes for over 85 hours to tap 2500 trees with a cordless drill 

    ~ battling black flies for over 25 hours to remove the taps at the end of the season

    ~ working 18 hour days when the sap is running boiling sap into syrup. 

    ~ hot-pack bottling, labeling, and shipping syrup around the country

 Equipment: We carry overhead on specialized maple equipment including arch, pans, Steam-away, vacuum pump, storage tanks, and reverse osmosis. 

Seasonal whims: We make syrup for only a few weeks every year. That’s our crop. If mother nature makes the season long, we’re stoked. If the season is short, there are financial consequences. 

Of course not everyone can afford maple syrup. Food insecurity is epidemic in this country, and many people are operating on a harsh food budget. I wish maple was available to everyone; it has a low glycemic index, is nutrient rich, and is high in antioxidants. If you're going to use sugar, maple is a pretty good one to use. 

But ultimately if being hipster means we care about how our product looks want to have fun with an aesthetic, I'm pretty happy about my new designation. Drink up Hipsters!