By Amanda Kimble-Evans
Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and cranberries. Yes, folks, cranberry seasons is here and the little fruits are flying off grocery store shelves. That is great news for our health. Cranberries are second only to blueberries for their power-packed-punch of antioxidants. And eating more fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants helps fight heart disease and cancer, while also helping us age gracefully. Although less chic than acai or pomegranates, cranberries top the super fruit pyramid. Don’t undo all those cancer-preventing effects by eating cranberries grown with cancer-causing pesticides.
- Most pesticides per serving: Cranberries that have been imported pose the greatest pesticide risk per serving than any other fruit or vegetable according to the Organic Center.
- A little bit of bad goes a long way: One of the most common toxins sprayed on cranberry bogs across the country, chlorpyrifos, is a known endocrine disruptor, linked to serious developmental damages even in “safe” low-dose amounts.
- Poisoned water: Cranberry bogs have historically been grandfathered in under federal and state clean water acts exempting them from restrictions on discharging fertilizer- and pesticide-laden water directly into nearby bodies of water.
Make your cranberries organic this year.
- No synthetic pesticides or fertilizers: Organic cranberry farmers rely on particularly timed flooding, hand-weeding or other labor-intensive techniques, and natural amendments to maintain their cranberries.
- More biodiversity, cleaner water: Because organic cranberry farmers can’t rely on synthetic chemicals, the biodiversity of their farms and the ecology of the land play even greater roles in producing and protecting their crop.
- Even more antioxidants: Organic farming can boost antioxidants in fruits and vegetables by an average of 30% compared to conventionally grown produce.
While there has been an increase in American cranberry farmers reducing their reliance on insecticides by using integrated pest management, the only sure way to avoid these toxins is to demand organic.
Sweet Cranberry Orange Relish (recipe)
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 large orange
3 cups sugar
pinch of salt
Wash and pick over the cranberries then place them into a large saucepan. Zest and then juice the orange, adding both the zest and the juice to the cranberries. Pour in the sugar, add a pinch of salt, and cook on medium heat until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens. Serve warm or cold.