Borrowers Rejoice: A Treasury Benchmark Rate Fell To Record Low

Money is on sale! Come in and enjoy the low, low prices!

On Tuesday, borrowed money got cheaper — and cheaper. For example, Bankrate, a consumer financial services company, started the day by saying lenders were offering 30-year fixed-rate mortgages at an average of just 3.4 percent.

By the end of the day, Zillow’s mortgage rate tracker was showing that the national average had slipped down to 3.27 percent.

And investors around the world were sending the U.S. Treasury this important message: we’ll lend you the cheapest money you’ve ever seen.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note closed below 1.4 percent for the first time on record. It settled at 1.367 percent. Even during the Great Depression, interest rates were never that low on the 10-year Treasury note. You could look it up.

And the 30-year bond’s yield slipped to 2.138 percent, below its record low of 2.226 percent Friday. Incredibly, some analysts are saying the yield may soon fall below 2 percent.

Why such cheap money?

Because following the United Kingdom’s vote on June 23 to exit the European Union, investors have gotten very nervous about the global economy. They want to park their cash someplace safe. And that means investing in government debt issued by safe-looking countries like the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. In other words, taxpayers in such countries can get cash at historically low rates.

And the low Treasury rates, in turn, serve as benchmarks for other types of lending rates, like auto loans, home equity loans and credit cards. They even set the tone for mortgage rates.

“The Brexit aftermath left markets rattled throughout last week, driving the continued decline in mortgage rates near all-time historical lows,” Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow, said in a statement.

So if you need to borrow money, this is a good time to do it.

And if you are a saver who lets out a sad sigh when you see your savings account statement — which shows you earned maybe a dime in interest — prepare to get even sadder.

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Obama Makes 2016 Campaign Debut: 'I'm Ready To Pass The Baton'

President Obama joins Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for the first time this year at a rally in Charlotte, N.C.

President Obama joins Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for the first time this year at a rally in Charlotte, N.C. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Obama told fans of Hillary Clinton in North Carolina he’s ready to “pass the baton.” He’s hoping his political push will help Clinton across the finish line in the presidential relay race.

“I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton,” Obama told several thousand supporters at the convention center in Charlotte, N.C. “I want you to help elect her the next president of the United States of America.”

Clinton hitched a ride with Obama to North Carolina aboard Air Force One. The joint appearance in the state could give Clinton’s campaign a lift in what’s likely to be one of the most hotly-contest battlegrounds of the fall campaign. It’s also the first time in at least 100 years that a president has campaigned for his chosen successor.

Even before the blue and white 747 took off from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, FBI Director James Comey had removed a potential storm cloud from Clinton’s path. Comey announced the bureau will recommend that no charges be filed over Clinton’s use of a personal email server for all electronic correspondence while she was Secretary of State.

While Comey said Clinton and others were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information—sending at least 110 classified emails through unsecured channels—”no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” in the absence of clear evidence that Clinton deliberately violated classification rules. Though details Comey gave about the investigation countered several of Clinton’s original claims, including whether she sent or received classified messages.

The White House said it had no prior knowledge of Comey’s announcement or even that he would be speaking about the investigation on the day of the long-planned campaign trip.

Clinton and Obama stepped off the presidential aircraft together—a potent political symbol that drew swift condemnation from Clinton’s Republican rival, Donald Trump.

“Taxpayers are paying a fortune for the use of Air Force One on the campaign trail by President Obama and Crooked Hillary,” Trump complained via Twitter. “A total disgrace!”

The Clinton campaign is expected to defray some of the cost of the flight, consistent with past practice.

At the convention center rally, both Clinton and Obama recalled the bitter primary battle they waged eight years ago, and the mutual respect that grew out of it.

“We may have gone toe-to-toe from coast-to-coast,” Obama said. “But we stood shoulder-to-shoulder for the ideals that we share.”

The Clinton campaign believes the evolution of that relationship makes Obama a powerful spokesman, especially with voters who still harbor personal reservations about Clinton.

“Hillary’s got her share of critics,” Obama acknowledged. “That’s what happens when you’ve fought for what you believe in. That’s what happens when you dedicate yourselves to public service over the course of a lifetime. And what sets Hillary apart from so many others is she never stopped caring. She never stopped trying.”

The president highlighted Clinton’s experience and preparation as a former diplomat, senator, and first lady — and he tried to draw a sharp distinction with Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

“Everybody can tweet,” Obama said. “But nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk.”

Clinton also went after Trump, calling the businessman, “simply unqualified and temperamentally unfit to be president.”

Trump planned his own campaign event in North Carolina Tuesday, an appearance in Raleigh along with Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. With 15 electoral votes, North Carolina could be an important prize in November. Obama narrowly carried the state in 2008, only to lose it four years later. A polling average compiled by Real Clear Politics currently shows Clinton with a razor-thin advantage there, and various projections show that it’s a must-win for Trump to reach 270 electoral votes.

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French Lawmakers Urge Changes To National Counterterrorism Efforts

The president of the commission of inquiry, former judge Georges Fenech (center left) and Socialist lawmaker Sebastien Pietrasanta (center right) look on during a press conference in Paris on Tuesday to present the conclusions of French inquiry into the terror attacks that rocked Paris in 2015.

The president of the commission of inquiry, former judge Georges Fenech (center left) and Socialist lawmaker Sebastien Pietrasanta (center right) look on during a press conference in Paris on Tuesday to present the conclusions of French inquiry into the terror attacks that rocked Paris in 2015. Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers investigating the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last year have laid out a long list of failures on the part of French authorities — and proposed dozens of reforms to prevent future attacks in France.

The militants responsible for attacks in January and November of 2015 were known to various government agencies, according to the commission investigating the attacks.

But intelligence failures marked the lead-up to the attacks, which killed nearly 150 people, the lawmakers found.

The special parliamentary commission has laid out dozens of proposals for how to prevent such an attack in the future, NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports.

Chief among them is to create a U.S.-style counter-terrorism agency, she reports: “A main proposal is to create a centralized national antiterrorism agency which would merge under a unified command France’s three elite intervention forces,” Eleanor says.

“The report said lapses included dropping surveillance of several of the attackers,” she notes.

A number of other failures were alleged by the commission, The Associated Press reports.

For instance, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who played a key role in the November attacks, was known in Belgium and “detected” in Greece in early January, The AP reports. If the two countries had coordinated, commission president Georges Fenech said, Abaaoud could have been arrested.

Between that and other intelligence lapses, “we could have avoided the attack of the Bataclan if there had not been these failures,” Fenech said, according to the AP.

Then, during the moments of crisis, rule-bound officials and rivalries between agencies kept the military and the police from effectively responding, the commission found.

For instance, soldiers at the Bataclan concert hall in November refused to lend their weapons to police officers, the AP reports. And when a specialized team of police officers arrived, another unit was already inside, and the intervention experts weren’t put in charge.

In addition to creating a new counterterrorism center, the commission also proposes preventing the reduction of the sentences of those convicted of terror-related crimes, the AP reports.

“The commission, which took testimony from 190 people and traveled to a half-dozen countries, also proposed seeking a more secure Turkish-Syrian border since French and other European youths use Turkey as a pathway to the Islamic State group’s areas in Syria,” the wire service writes. “They also proposed more Europol agents at ‘hotspots’ in Greece, to better manage the migrant flux.”

The AP reports that some critics are already concerned the recommendations won’t lead to concrete shifts in policy.

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Monday's Attack In Medina 'An Attack On The Soul Of The Muslim World'

In this July 5, 2013, file photo, worshipers visit the cemetery outside the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, one of Islam's holiest sites. Medina was among the places attacked in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

In this July 5, 2013, file photo, worshipers visit the cemetery outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Medina was among the places attacked in Saudi Arabia on Monday. Hadi Mizban/AP hide caption

toggle caption Hadi Mizban/AP

Monday’s bombing in the Saudi city of Medina stands out, even among the wave of terrorist attacks in recent days. It wasn’t the death toll. It didn’t produce the scenes of carnage like Saturday’s bombing in Baghdad that killed nearly 200 people or last week’s attack on the airport in Istanbul that left 44 dead.

It was the chosen target — Medina, the site of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s tomb and his house.

“It’s not like a Shiite shrine or a Sunni shrine,” says Jonathan A.C. Brown, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization at Georgetown University. “This is literally the burial place of the prophet of God. This is his mosque, this is his house.”

Medina is second only to Mecca in its sacredness in Islam, Brown explains. It’s the place where Muhammad lived, where he started the Muslim community and where he was laid to rest.

Saudi Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (left) visits an injured policeman at a local hospital following a suicide attack near the security headquarters of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina on July 4.

Saudi Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (left) visits an injured policeman at a local hospital following a suicide attack near the security headquarters of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina on July 4. STR/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption STR/AFP/Getty Images

According to Islamic hadiths — the sayings and teachings of the prophet — Muhammad said that when you visit his grave in Medina to greet him, it is as if you were visiting him when he was alive. And it’s a place that is sacred to all Muslims, whether conservative or liberal, Shiite or Sunni.

“To attack it is just a sign that you are attacking Muslims as a whole and the Muslim community as a whole and Islam as a religion,” Brown says.

He speculates about possible reasons for the attack.

“Either they’re literally attacking their own religion, which is psychotic,” he says. Or “they’re so intent on de-legitimizing the Saudi government, they don’t care about doing violence in this sacred place and trying to kill Muslims who are engaged in this tremendous act of devotion that every Muslim agrees on.”

Saudi Arabia’s ruler, King Salman, holds the title of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, as the protector of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. Militants laid siege to the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979. It’s a place where fighting is forbidden; even trees aren’t supposed to be cut down.

The suspected culprit of Monday’s Medina attack is the Islamic State. And while Muslim religious scholars and leaders always widely condemn the group and its attacks, this one struck a sharper than usual emotional chord.

Muslims from around the world took to social media to express their grief, using an Arabic hashtag which translates as “ISIS desecrates the prophet’s mosque and his grave.”

One woman tweeted, “Every terror attack is horrific and heartbreaking, but an attack on #Medina is an attack on the soul of the Muslim world.”

The attack will only intensify widespread anger at ISIS, which has already killed thousands of Muslims and displaced millions of people in Iraq and Syria. “Today’s attack in Medina is a sign of the end of ISIS,” a respected Syrian Islamic scholar, Muhammad al-Yacoubi, tweeted.

“Every Muslim scholar I know of, except for one or two Muslim scholars who work for ISIS, considers ISIS either to be extremist heretics or to be apostates — so they’re not Muslims,” Brown says. “It’s probably one of the single biggest questions, articles of agreements, amongst Muslims today.”

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Trump Tweets: A History Of Gaffes From Comparing Wives To The 6-Point Star

Donald Trump often touts his millions of social media followers. But his free-wheeling style — online and on the stump — has gotten him into trouble many times during this campaign.

Richard Drew/AP

Donald Trump insists he didn’t mean anything anti-Semitic by his weekend tweet depicting Democratic rival Hillary Clinton alongside a six-point star and piles of $100 bills. Assuming that’s true, it’s yet another unforced error for the Trump campaign, in what’s become an almost constant stream of errors, gaffes, and other blunders.

Trump often touts his millions of social media followers. But his free-wheeling style — online and on the stump — has gotten him into trouble many times during this campaign for insensitive, inaccurate, or questionably sourced tweets.

The “Sheriff’s Star”

This weekend, he blamed members of the “dishonest media” for suggesting that the six-point-star was meant to represent a Star of David -– many of whom spent the weekend waiting for the campaign to respond to requests for clarification. Eventually, Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino Jr., picked up the theme, tweeting: “For the MSM to suggest that I am antisemite is AWFUL. I proudly celebrate holidays w/ my wife’s amazing Jewish family for the past 16 years.”

For the MSM to suggest that I am antisemite is AWFUL. I proudly celebrate holidays w/ my wife’s amazing Jewish family for the past 16 years.

— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) July 5, 2016

But it was more than a suggestion — as the website mic reported, the image originated with white supremacists online. In a statement, Scavino said the star-shaped image, which he called a “sheriff’s badge,” was sourced from an anti-Clinton Twitter account. Scavino said he chose to remove it to avoid offending anyone. The “sheriff’s star” explanation drew a fair amount of skepticism and derision.

White Supremacist Links and Taco Bowls

The “sheriff’s star,” incident drew praise from white supremacist leader David Duke. But it’s far from the first time Trump’s been accused of coziness with white supremacists –- on Twitter and elsewhere.

Nice to see Mr. Trump slipping some ‘Red Pills’ to the American people! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #AmericaFirst https://t.co/UERKZgS88n

— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) July 2, 2016

Earlier this year, Trump was slow to distance himself from Duke’s support – though under pressure, Trump eventually disavowed Duke. Back in November, Trump tweeted out a graphic that grossly overstated the rate of black-on-white murder. The graphic claimed that most murders of white people are committed by African Americans, when in fact most whites are killed by other whites. It came at a time when Trump being criticized for seeming to encourage violence toward protesters at his rallies, including several who were African American.

Even when Trump tries to reach out to minority groups, he does so clumsily — like the infamous “taco bowl” tweet in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, or his awkward reference to “my African American over there” when pointing out a black supporter at a rally.

From “Brexit” to Mussolini

There was also the time, in February, when Trump retweeted a quote that turned out to have come from the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini:

@ilduce2016: ?It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.? ? @realDonaldTrump #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016

Trump leaned in to that one, telling NBC he wants to “be associated with interesting quotes.”

On several occasions, Trump’s posts have shown him to be misinformed or lacking knowledge of important pieces of context. Upon landing in Scotland the morning after the so-called “Brexit” vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, Trump tweeted, “Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote”:

Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016

As many online were quick to point out, Scotland actually voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, a result at odds with the vote in the UK as a whole.

Not On Message – And Maybe Not Legal

Trump’s missteps online are mirrored by other gaffes in real life. His campaign apparently slipped up last month by sending out fundraising emails to foreign officials — even though such donations are against federal law. Then, there are simple verbal misstatements — like referring to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as “7/11” instead of “9/11” during an appearance in Buffalo, N.Y. ahead of that state’s primary.

What’s politically worse for Trump is when he reveals himself to be out of step with important voting blocs within his party on major issues like abortion. Shortly before the Wisconsin primary — a state where Trump faced substantial opposition from social conservatives — Trump flubbed an answer to a question about abortion when he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews he believed there should be some form of punishment for women who seek illegal abortions. Trump walked that back by getting back on message with a statement saying that he only would support punishment for doctors who perform abortions — but not before he astonished and offended many anti-abortion rights activist leaders.

Too Late To Say “Sorry?”

In an earlier example, Trump told a group of evangelicals in Iowa in July of 2015 summer that he couldn’t recall having ever sought forgiveness from God — a major misstep in that crowd.

It may not be asking God for forgiveness, but Trump did acknowledge he’d made a “mistake” by tweeting out an unflattering image of then-rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, alongside a modeling photo of his own wife, Melania in late March. Trump told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that if he had a do-over he “wouldn’t have sent it.” Still, if the months since then are any indication, Trump isn’t showing much hesitancy to send tweets that many observers find offensive, and many of his supporters say they find refreshingly authentic.

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New Mexico Defrauds The Poor Out Of Food Stamps, Whistleblowers Say

Angela Dominguez works for the Income Support Division in Portales, N.M. She's a whistleblower who spoke out about the practice of changing food stamps applications.

Angela Dominguez works for the Income Support Division in Portales, N.M. She’s a whistleblower who spoke out about the practice of changing food stamps applications. Marisa DeMarco/KUNM hide caption

toggle caption Marisa DeMarco/KUNM

Despite working as a home health aide in New Mexico for nearly two decades, Kimberly Jones was struggling to get the hours she needed to make ends meet. She was living in a hotel room, and every day she had to make a choice.

“Do I eat or do I pay for the room? Or how can I squeeze them both? Because, you know, the hotel wants their money,” Jones says. “They don’t care if you eat or not.”

Jones applied for food stamps. She says the state worker she met with told her she was eligible for expedited assistance, and she’d get her benefits within a week.

But the money didn’t show up. Not for two months.

In a recent federal court hearing, nine employees of New Mexico’s Income Support Division — which oversees food stamps — took the stand to testify about fake assets being added to food stamps applications.

Documents show Jones didn’t list any assets on her application, but somewhere along the line, someone changed the number so her case file showed $150. That’s enough to bump her out of the emergency help category.

“When you take someone’s food from them, they don’t have anything, and that’s really sad,” Jones says. “And for them to take that away, it makes you feel like nothing.”

When higher-ups were questioned in court, they pleaded the Fifth repeatedly. The state launched an internal investigation, but the results are sealed, and officials have refused to grant interviews about the allegations.

“It cuts across that myth that the food stamps participants commit fraud,” says Sovereign Hager, who works with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

Hager is one of the lawyers who took the state to court.

“The bigger danger here is that we’re not administering these programs effectively — that eligible people can’t get what they need when they need it,” she says.

Actually, New Mexico’s been under legal pressure for more than 20 years about how it doles out public assistance.

Angela Dominguez, one of the Income Support Division workers who testified against the state said she would repeatedly pass a case file to a manager for review, but when it came back it was no longer an emergency food stamp case.

“I was asked to falsify applications,” says Angela Dominguez, one of the Income Support Division workers who testified against the state. “They taught me.”

That’s similar to what happened to Jones.

“Nobody wanted to do it,” Dominguez says. “It was wrong.”

Dominguez lives in southeastern New Mexico in the city of Portales, which is surrounded by farms. This winter’s cold snap killed thousands of dairy cows.

She says that affected the livelihood of many families in her area and sent folks into her office looking for help.

“It’s a small community,” Dominguez says. “I have to face these families. I see them at the grocery store. These are people that are counting on me to do right by them. I couldn’t keep living that way.”

She tried to bring up the issue internally first and says she got nowhere, so she contacted the state employees union. She thought her office was the only one falsifying applications, but the union found workers with the same story in other parts of New Mexico.

Dominguez says this has been happening for years.

“It’s ridiculous,” she says. “It’s ridiculous that it’s gone on this long and that nobody’s said anything.”

Since the allegations surfaced, a top official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees food stamps, has called New Mexico’s system the “most fouled-up” in the country.

In a letter, state officials outlined reforms. But the judge could put a third party in charge of processing food stamps applications in New Mexico.

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'The New York Times' Investigates An Ailing Clean Coal Project

The Kemper Project is an electrical generating station currently under construction in Kemper County, Miss. The plant has been held up as a model of the Obama administration’s efforts to promote new, clean energy technologies, but the project is two years behind schedule, still not operational, and more than $4 billion over budget. NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks to Ian Urbina of The New York Times about the Kemper Project and the administration’s clean energy policy.

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From Tree To Tap: Maple Water Makes A Splash

DRINKmaple hit store shelves in 2014. It's one of several brands of maple water to hit the market in recent years.

DRINKmaple hit store shelves in 2014. It’s one of several brands of maple water to hit the market in recent years. Courtesy of DRINKmaple hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of DRINKmaple

Kate Weiler was in Mount Tremblant, Quebec, when she found bottled maple water in a local coffee shop. With one sip, she was hooked on the single-ingredient water with a hint of sweetness.

“I loved the idea that it was natural, plant-based hydration from a local, sustainable source that tasted great,” says Weiler.

Maple water wasn’t sold in her hometown of Saint Albans, Vermont. In the process of searching for — and failing to find — a source where she could order it, Weiler decided to launch a business to bring the functional beverage to market.

DRINKmaple hit store shelves in 2014. Around the same time, several other brands of maple water came online. Weiler welcomed the competition because she believed it brought attention to the category. The drinks usually retail for about $3 for $5 for a 12 to 17-ounce bottle.

“People have been drinking maple water from buckets on sap farms for hundreds of years,” she says. “We like to say that the un-trendiest beverage is now trending.”

While demand has increased — global market research firm Technavio estimates the market for maple water will increase 30 percent by 2020 — there are still misconceptions about the product.

Kate Weiler and Jeff Rose cofounded Drinkmaple. "People have been drinking maple water from buckets on sap farms for hundreds of years," Weiler says. "We like to say that the un-trendiest beverage is now trending."

Kate Weiler and Jeff Rose cofounded Drinkmaple. “People have been drinking maple water from buckets on sap farms for hundreds of years,” Weiler says. “We like to say that the un-trendiest beverage is now trending.” Courtesy of DRINKmaple hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of DRINKmaple

“We’re so programmed to think of sap as sticky and gooey,” explains Valentina Cugnasca, cofounder and CEO of maple water manufacturer Vertical Water. “It takes a lot of consumer education to explain what maple water really is.”

The supply chain for maple water and maple syrup are the same: Farmers tap maple trees and collect the sap when it starts to flow in the spring. Unlike syrup, which is boiled down into a thick, sticky liquid, maple water is made from unprocessed sap that is 98 percent water. It goes from tree to bottle with no additives or preservatives.

“Nothing is cleaner than our ingredient label,” says Weiler.

Maple water is often compared to coconut water, which has about 45 calories and 11 grams of sugar per eight-ounce serving; the same size bottle of maple water has an average of 15 calories and 3 grams of sugar. Maple water also contains manganese, a nutrient responsible for calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. Both are single-ingredient, plant-based hydration.

The popularity of coconut water has been essential for building acceptance of plant-based beverages.

“If it wasn’t for the work the coconut water manufacturers had done to open up this category, no other plant-based beverage would have a chance,” she says.

Robust coconut water sales have helped maple water capture the attention of retailers. DRINKmaple is sold in 4,000 locations across the U.S., including Kroger stores, and Vertical Water is sold in Whole Foods along with thousands of other retailers nationwide.

There is another reason the tree-to-tap trend is gaining momentum: It supports local farmers.

Vertical Water partners with 10 sap farmers in New York and Wisconsin, and DRINKmaple sources all of its sap from farms located within 20 miles of its Vermont headquarters.

When New York-based maple water manufacturer Sap on Tap approached sap farmers about a new market for their sap, the reactions were positive.

“It’s one less step for them [because the sap doesn’t need to be boiled down into syrup], and it gives them an additional revenue source,” explains Sap on Tap founder Cyrus Schwartz.

Cugnasca emphasizes that maple water is not meant to divert sap from syrup making. Instead, it helps farmers use overflow sap.

“A lot of these farmers have limited production capabilities, and they take the taps out or turn off the flow when they reach maximum syrup production,” she explains. “We’re asking them to let the sap flow and sell it to us.”

Sourcing sap is not as simple as partnering with sap farmers. The window to collect sap is limited (it runs for several weeks in the spring), requiring maple water manufacturers to collect enough sap in the spring to fill orders the rest of the year.

To complicate matters, the product is not initially shelf stable, and each manufacturer has had to devise additive-free solutions to preserve it. Sap on Tap, for example, freezes its maple water and thaws enough to bottle each new batch. Vertical Water and DRINKmaple both flash pasteurize their maple water before bottling it to increase its shelf life.

“It is harder to bring it to scale,” says Cugnasca. “We are very acquiescent to Mother Nature. And all we can do is take out as many hiccups as we can, because we can’t tell Whole Foods that Mother Nature hasn’t woken up from winter yet.”

As demand grows, Schwartz is more worried about knock-off brands than the supply of sap.

“It’s important that we keep manufacturers from cheating by adding maple syrup to tap water and calling it maple water,” he explains. “If that happens, we’ll lose a lot of credibility.”

For now, the focus is on raising awareness of maple water.

“It’s the opposite of what people expect,” Schwartz says. “The flavor is very subtle, not sweet. We always tell people, ‘You have to try it.’ “


Jodi Helmer is a North Carolina journalist and beekeeper who frequently writes about food and farming.

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Los Hacheros: Tiny Desk Concert

July 5, 20163:31 PM ET

Sometimes it’s necessary to get back to basics. In the case of Los Hacheros, that means returning to the deep groove of Afro-Caribbean music that provides the source material for modern salsa and all of its permutations.

As you’ll see in this video, the band’s dedication to authenticity is masterfully executed with a serious dose of sabor. In fact, the band was so swinging, it was impossible to sit on the sidelines and pass up my own chance to jump in during “Bambulaye” and perform with the band myself. So clear out the furniture and turn up the sound on this video to create your own dance party.

Bambulaye is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • “Baila Con Los Hacheros”
  • “Papote’s Guajira”
  • “Bambulaye”

Credits

Producers: Felix Contreras, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame, Colin Marshall; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

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