Cranberries, the new 'super food?'
Nova Scotia is truly a health-conscious person's playground.
Not only is the northern region of Nova Scotia known for its wild blueberry crop, but another fruit is emerging that has similar qualities that make it good for us to use on a daily basis.
Globally, blueberries have been called one of the world's super foods, closely followed by cranberries. This emergence of a second super food rife with many health benefits has not gone unnoticed and several growers in Cumberland and Colchester counties have developed a means of growing and marketing the berries.
Malcolm and Marilyn Logan of West Amherst and Graham Wood in Oxford are two of the growers. Several other growers exist including one in Belmont, near Truro and another in Debert. There are no growers in Pictou County at this time.
"This region is perfect for growing cranberries because of the type of cool, moist weather we get here,' Malcolm Logan said.
"This summer was a perfect season for growing berries. We had lots of rain and that generally means good berries,' Marilyn added.
"They grow bigger, fuller with more juice. And when they ripen, they are perfect for all types of cooking,' she added.
Many of the larger producers of cranberries in the Eastern United States, northeast Canada and Wisconsin areas, employ cranberry bogs to harvest their crops.
The Logan's are an exception.
"We dry pick everything. We did a lot of reading and traveling and our research showed us you get better berries that stand up longer if you dry pick,' Malcolm said.
Cranberries aren't your average fruit. They help cleanse and purify the body because they contain powerful nutrients called proanthocyanidins, (PACs), which research suggests help keep certain bacteria from sticking inside the body.
The PACS in cranberries are different from other fruits, giving them more anti-stick potential. They also have antioxidants, like flavonoids and vitamin C, which helps to strengthen the immune system. In fact, cranberries have more naturally occurring antioxidants per gram than most other common fruit including blueberries.
Antioxidants are compounds that reduce free radical, or oxidative damage that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease.
The Logan's operate a 3.6-acre farm behind their home, a former egg farm near Amherst. They have found each acre farmed produces 3.63 to 4.54 metric tonnes of berries per acre. They have just completed their harvest and the yield this season was around 13.608 metric tonnes of berries.
Prices for berries range from $2 to $4 per pound in stores.
The majority of the berries are sold to a supplier whole the Logan's sell some from their operation in addition to the farmer's market in Tatamagouche.