According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University, we Americans eat 2.3 pounds of cranberries every year, 20 percent or 80 million pounds of them this week! There are …
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University, we Americans eat 2.3 pounds of cranberries every year, 20 percent or 80 million pounds of them this week! There are jams, jellies, drinks, and even dried cranberries called Craisins.
Cranberries are one of only four fruits native to North America, unless you include fruitcake. The good news for your consumption of cranberries this week is that they are on the top of the list of healthy foods. They have plenty of vitamin C, manganese and fiber plus a nice hit of antioxidants. Antioxidants were not on the list of chemicals Biden asked the Chinese to quit shipping to the US last week. Approximately 697 million pounds of cranberries were harvested in 2021 with Wisconsin being the leading producer at 59 percent of the U.S. crop. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon produce most of the remainder with some coming from Chile. Only about 5 percent of the U.S. cranberries are sold fresh while the remainder are processed, mostly for juice and juice blends. An article by Ben Cohen in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal notes that we blend frozen cranberries into smoothies, the Pilgrims used cranberries to cure scurvy, and the juice is used to prevent urinary-tract infections. There are zero-sugar juices, chocolate-dipped cranberry bites, and ready-to-drink cans of vodka cranberry. Something for everyone.
Here is a quote from the Rutgers University Libraries. “Opinions differ as to the origin of the name cranberry. The more commonly accepted explanation is that in the early stages of the plant's development, the cranberry flower resembles the head of a crane, thus the name.” Could it be like “craneberry?”
The WSJ article highlights a few of the unique aspects of the business. You would be naïve to not have the inkling that the company named Ocean Spray plays a major role in the industry. In fact, they account for 65 to 80 percent of the business. (Depends on your source.) However, the company is actually a cooperative founded nearly a century ago and owned by roughly 700 families. The owners grow the cranberries and hire professionals to run the business. Ocean Spray provides ready processing, innovations, marketing and distribution for the products. In addition, the company’s current CEO and president, Tom Hayes, notes that the company “would not have the $2 billion in annual sales if it hadn’t adapted and produced new ideas at several critical junctures in the past century.”
Without a doubt you will have several options to satisfy your cranberry “jones” tomorrow and maybe the rest of the weekend. You probably also sense that the cranberry industry considers tomorrow their “Super Bowl” and breathes a sigh of relief when the end of every November comes around each year. This information will be far more fun to talk about than the politics your uninformed relatives put on you around the Thanksgiving table. Remember that when life gives you cranberries, make cranberry sauce.
Love a curmudgeon and have a Happy Thanksgiving