Specialty Food Magazine

JAN-FEB 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 8 of 159

GUEST LETTER In Memoriam: Jim MacIsaac BY CHRIS CROCKER I n the brutal world of high-school males, some stand out for aca- demics, some stand out for athletics, and some try not to stand out at all. Among the boys in the Taft School class of 1976, Jim MacIsaac and I flew under the radar: Me, a dumpy late-bloomer. Jim, good-looking with a steady girlfriend. We both were out- side of the popular circles, but Jim seemed less concerned about it than I was. He never adopted the biting sarcasm that so defines and damages adolescents, offering instead an easy smile to anyone who approached him. Remarkably, he got away with it. Our lives intersected 15 years later at a Fancy Food Show. Jim and his wife, Judy, were looking to expand Highland Sugarworks' maple syrup sales nationally. I was publishing a trade newspaper and getting to know the industry. It wasn't hard to recognize Jim: He never lost his boyish good looks or positive demeanor. I've come to learn that specialty food people generally fall into two groups: those who are behind their prod- ucts, either creating, sourcing or producing them, and those who are out in front, focused on marketing and sales. Jim was definitely behind Highland Sugarworks' products, gladly staffing the booth and leaving Judy to handle the selling and promotion. Jim had gone from Taft to study dairy science at the University of Vermont. There he also learned the ba- sics of the maple trade. After graduation, Jim became familiar with modern food production while working for several Vermont dairy companies. Eager to put his education and experience to work, Jim proposed re-opening a long-dormant sugaring operation on his parent's weekend farm in Vermont. Traditionally gathered at each tree in galvanized buckets and collected manually, the sap in a modern sugar- ing operation now flows from tapped trees through plastic tubes, or drop lines, which run into larger tubes, even- tually leading into mainlines, which feed into collecting vats. On the MacIsaac sugarbush, roughly 13,000 taps feed two main lines, one from the South Face of the property and one from the North Face. There's always work to be Jim MacIsaac Owner, Highland Sugarworks March 30, 1958 – November 1, 2011 done in the sugarbush, though Jim didn't need an excuse. He gladly put his back into all of the workings of the operation. In addition to caring for the trees, Jim built the sugar house JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 7

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