Thankful for Cranberries

17 Oct

Even after forking the last shreds of Thanksgiving turkey into my mouth, I discovered another reason to be grateful for cranberries on a visit to Newfoundland last week.

When the pulp and paper mill closed down in Grand Falls-Windsor, in 2009, things looked bleak. But surprisingly, in the past four years, the population of the municipality has kept growing. One initiative that has helped is the creation of ten cranberry farms.

Lloyd Warford, Cranberry Project Manager for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, and his blueprints for a new sustainable industry.

Locals interested in becoming cranberry farmers–no experience required–were invited to send a letter of interest to the town and be ready to put down 10% of initial costs. Provincial and federal government took care of the other 90% and brought in consultants to help the new farmers learn about everything from frost protection to pest control to choosing varieties that would thrive in Central Newfoundland .

Ripe cranberries, the week before the marshes are flooded and harvest begins.

The hardy berry in fact loves the local climate: it grows sweeter and with slightly higher nutritional values here than in warmer regions. The nutrient-rich peaty bogs and easy access to sand from the coast (for protecting the plants in their damp environment) make life easier for the farmers too. As well as helping Canadians get their bitter-sweet berry fix this Thanksgiving, Grand Falls-Windsor’s new crop of farmers has started exporting as far afield as Germany, Russia and Denmark.

84-year-old Art Gill switched from dairy farming to plant 30 acres of cranberries in 2010. This year he’ll have his first harvest.

So don’t feel bad about taking seconds from the cran-sauce bowl over Thanksgiving–you may well be stimulating a local economy. And from the perspective of your health, remember that cranberries are rich in vitamin C, fibre, manganese, vitamin K and vitamin E and loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants. They can help with everything from urinary tract infections to stomach ulcers to heart disease to slowing the spread of cancers.

Eat me.

If you’re looking for ideas on using up leftover cranberries from this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, click here, here or here. Thanks for reading!

4 Responses to “Thankful for Cranberries”

  1. paul g murphy October 18th, 2013 at 11:27 AM #

    There are several berries in Newfoundland that have been eaten for there health benefits for hundreds of years,Bake-apple berries are by far the tastiest Berrie we have growing in the wild ,also the low bush blue Berry is also probably the sweetest blue berry in Canada.Many relatives of mine have always said that the different aliments people had were usually cured from the juice of many of the wild berry in Newfoundland .Thank you for your article and come back soon.

    • Valerie Howes October 18th, 2013 at 12:34 PM #

      Hi Paul, Thanks for your comment. I was fascinated by all the berries I discovered in Newfoundland on this trip. I’d never seen a dogberry before,for example, and I’m told that because there are so many this year, you’re in for heavy snow! Look out for my new post on sea buckthorn today; it’s not native to Newfoundland, but it’s being grown succesfully in Wooddale. And I’m running a recipe from grand Falls-Windsor restaurant 48 High later this week that uses wild gooseberries. Thanks to everybody in Central Newfoundland who showed such wonderful hospitality. You live in a beautiful part of the country!

  2. Philip Mullett October 18th, 2013 at 11:45 AM #

    Great article which will no doubt help the cranberry industry in Nl.

    • Valerie Howes October 18th, 2013 at 12:35 PM #

      Thanks, Philip! The cranberry farms are an exciting initiative.

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