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.
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 .
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.
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.