Cranberries for Thanksgiving
After one year spent in the United States, I have learnt the importance of Thanksgiving. This celebration doesn’t exist in France and I was so excited last year to discover this so typical American tradition, which seems even more important than Christmas!
So here’s a quick summary of my first Thanksgiving : everybody’s back in his family spending the day with the loved ones, cooking and laughing. Then it’s a 10 minute feast, to finally end up with football on television!
Is it always like that? Please tell me guys, I am so curious about that! haha
From my French perspective, you can perhaps imagine how this experience was a surprise…! In France, if you spend the day cooking and laughing with your family, you eat for at least 4 hours at dinner and eventually, everybody argue on everything! Your drunk grandfather is talking about politics and you try to not listen to him, the children are screaming and fighting around the table, your grandmother is serving you again her hand made organic crème brûlée, your father is snoring on the coach … Whatever, you get the picture? Nothing is more important but food for French people!
Anyway, my point is that before my first Thanksgiving last year, I had never eaten cranberries. This is not a fruit that is well known in France. You can perhaps find some in organic grocery stores, but they are dry. Here, I was able to try them fresh, in jam, and above all in your so famous Thanksgiving sauce… Yummy !
Cranberry’ s production
I am always curious about what I don’t know, so I decided to get more information about that fruit (and also because I love healthy food and I heard that cranberries are full of antioxidants!).
In the past, cranberries were hand harvested. These fruits grow on climbing vine-like shrubs which can live more than 60 years.
But today, because of the growing demand, it became an intensive production. Ocean Spray, the American leader company on cranberry’s production, holds 60% of the world market and 70% of the American market. But its production process is full of surprises…
Food safety issue
Cranberry shrubs can’t support negative temperatures. So during winter, the fields are flooded in order to isolate the bushes under a layer of fresh water. In the spring, the water has evaporated, but the humidity contributes to the development of mushrooms and bacteria which can harm fruit growth. So pesticides with a high level of phosphorus, are used to eradicate the problem.
According to a 2008 report, cranberries represent the highest risk on a food safety level among all the fruits cultivated in the United States.
Cranberry’s production is also questionable on an environmental point of view.
During harvesting, in fall, the large farms flood again the fields. With the help of a combine, fruits come off the shrubs and float on the surface of the water. Then, they are picked up with another machine.
And all this water full of pesticides is returned to nature without any treatment creating the development of toxic algae and the death of several animals.
Some cranberry growers are fortunately environmentally conscious growers that respect biodiversity as well environmental regulations (the federal Clean Water Act, the State and federal pesticide regulations…).
So be careful next time you buy some cranberries, and Happy Thanksgiving !