Move Over Coconut Water, Make Room for a more Sustainable Drink

maple water

maple waterPerhaps you’ve fallen in love with coconut water for all the health benefits that are touted, and the few celebrities that are known for guzzling it after a workout. Indeed, the health benefits of coconut water are far-ranging, but there just might be an even more nutritious drink that is even more sustainable thanks to the maple tree – maple water.

The Problem with Coconut Water

Coconut water has been called ‘too good to be true’ due to having less sugar than soda, being full of electrolytes, and being derived from the all too beneficial coconut. But did you know that the two companies who fight hardest against GMO labeling are also selling the most coconut water?

“The top three coconut water brands—Vita Coco [distributed by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group], Zico [owned by Coca-Cola], and O.N.E. Coconut Water [owned by PepsiCo]—doubled their sales between 2011 and 2012, while 100% juice sales declined 3% in the same time period…However, launches have remained stable, with 60 coconut water products entering the market in 2011, and 58 in 2012.”

Spikes in demand for certain products can cause real problems in the developing world – as we’ve seen happen with rainforest destruction for the development of palm oil and quinoa. The coconut craze is no different. It isn’t helping farmers.

One farmer who grows coconuts in Sri Lanka, where more than just the water is consumed, finds that if it can be sold for a higher price in the U.S., it is exported there, making it more expensive for Sri Lanka people. Most Asian countries sell their coconuts to middlemen who mark up the prices 50% before sending them to coconut processing companies.

Enter – Maple Water

In comes a possible savior – maple water. Like honey, maple is full of nutrition and important antioxidants we all need. Many people familiar with maple syrup don’t realize that it doesn’t flow out of maple trees in a viscous form. Usually what comes out of the tree is more like water. It is sweet and delicious, and full of nutrients and minerals.

Numerous companies have started to market maple water, most of them in Canada. One company in upstate New York has started manufacturing a maple water product called Vertical Water, developed as a method of encouraging forest owners to preserve their land.

There are currently millions of sugar maple trees in New England, but most are not tapped for maple syrup because there’s just not that much demand. Vertical Water is produced by Feronia Forests, which is a certified B corporation, meaning that it has met rigorous standards of environmental and social responsibility.

If Vertical Water starts to upset the coconut craze, we could save forests that are threatened by urban and suburban development, as well as farmer’s livelihoods across the U.S. simultaneously. . . and maple water is good for you, too.