I was raised surrounded by cranberry bogs. Growing up I didn’t give them much thought- they were just part of the landscape. Cranberries are an interwoven piece of the fabric that makes up Massachusetts. Ocean Spray was actually founded in my hometown!
The cranberry is the Massachusetts state fruit- it’s our state color. Does your state have a state drink? We do. It’s cranberry juice cocktail. There is an adult beverage bearing the name, the Cape Codder. It features cranberry juice + lime + vodka. Needless to say, we like our cranberries. a lot. And I’ve told you about this little berry and my own personal love for it before.
It wasn’t until I moved to DC that I realized that bogs are actually quite foreign to people. People tend to give me a look of bewilderment when I tell them that I live near bogs. Growing, harvesting, and consuming large amounts of cranberries are not so normal concepts apparently. People’s understanding of cranberries go as far as the dudes standing in a bog in waders from the Ocean Spray commercials.
In order to clear up some of the mystery behind cranberries, Ocean Spray has been bringing a traveling bog across the U.S. for almost ten years. Yesterday and today, it came to DC for the first time.
So guess who got to climb in over 2,000 lbs. of cranberries? THIS GUY.
I don’t think I have had a more New England girl moment. When I read the email inviting me to participate in this event, I freaked out a little bit.
It was such a cool experience! I got to spend my time talking to 5th generation cranberry harvester, Neva Moore (the woman in the photo above). Her family has been harvesting cranberries in New Jersey since 1850- not too far off from the first cranberry harvest in Massachusetts in 1816! I loved geeking out with her over the uniqueness of cranberries. Farmers flood the bogs with water and four air chambers inside the berries cause them to float to the top for harvesting. I mean… no other fruit is harvested quite like THAT.
Cranberries have always been a part of my whole-body, healthy lifestyle, but if you need reasons to get on board the cranberry train- here are some nutritional benefits that cranberries offer (brought to you by Ocean Spray):
- There are more than 50 years of research behind the cranberry’s well-documented properties in maintaining urinary tract health
- One 8-oz. serving of 100% cranberry juice is equal to two full servings of fruit
- Naturally fat-free, low in sugar, cholesterol-free and a good source of fiber
- Emerging studies show that cranberries may help support heart health due to their rich polyphenol content
- Compounds in cranberries can help prime the immune system for activity, which can help protect the body’s cells from incoming threats
- Cranberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidant activity of many commanly consumed fruits- MORE than blueberries, plums, strawberries, apples, green and red grapes, raspberries, and blackberries.
Not only are Cranberries wicked nutrient dense, but they are even known mood boosters!
And they’re in season NOW. They really shine during a little upcoming holiday you may have heard of- Thanksgiving.
I love making homemade cranberry sauce and having it on hand to give every day foods, like turkey burgers or oatmeal, a fun fall twist! Craisins can be added to yogurt bowls and side dishes like green beans. The possibilities are endless!
They’re just the right amount of tart- just the right amount of sweet- they’re grown in the greatest place on earth- and they’re my favorite color.
Here are some more fun facts about the cranberry (again, brought to you by Ocean Spray):
- 400 million pounds of cranberries consumed by Americans each year. 20% percent of that is during Thanksgiving week – 80 million pounds
- 4,400 is the number of pressed cranberries it takes to make one gallon of cranberry juice
- Cranberries are one of only three fruit native to North America
- The cranberry gets its name from Dutch and German settlers, who nicknamed it the “crane berry.” When cranberry vines bloom in the late spring, the pale flowers resemble the head and bill of a crane
- Native Americans typically ate cranberries fresh, mashed with cornmeal and baked into bread. A recipe for cranberry sauce is even featured in the Pilgrim Cookbook of 1663
- During Lewis and Clark’s famed expedition, William Clark described purchasing cranberries from Native Americans in Oregon in his personal journal
- Native Americans also believed in the medicinal value of the cranberry, using the berry in poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds
- Cranberries provided the crews of whaling ships with fresh fruit and enough vitamin C to avoid the extreme weakness and even death that could be brought on by the dreaded disease scurvy
- During World War II, soldiers ate cranberries to get vitamins, obtain energy, and prevent disease
- 100 pounds of berries is equal to one barrel, and in 1868, one barrel sold for 58 cents. In 2012, one barrel sold for around $63
- At first, growers picked the berries by hand. They then developed a more efficient dry harvesting technique, later revolutionizing the process with an idea called wet harvesting in 1960
To learn more about cranberries, check out Ocean Spray’s website. Keep yourself updated with all the thangs they’re doing by following their twitter. They’re even on instagram. And yes. I’m following.
Thanks again to the amazing people over at Ocean Spray for providing me with this wicked cool experience. THANK YOU!
Keep it wicked healthy xoxo