Just 560 of the 48,000 acres of cranberries grown in the United States and Canada are organic. Why is the chemical-free crop so small? Cranberry vines produce fruit in wetlands filled with fungi, insects, and weeds. To get the highest possible yield, conventional farms apply synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, which contaminate the environment and linger on the fruit itself: In 2006, the USDA found traces of 13 pesticides on conventional cranberries.
Happily, the number of organic cranberry farmers is growing. At Cranberry Hill Farm in Massachusetts, for example, Kristine Keese fertilizes her bog with fish emulsion and other organic nutrients—sparing helpful newts and spiders while boosting soil health—and manages weeds with lots of hand pulling. “You have to treat it like a garden,” she says.
Enjoy some organic cranberries in these delicious recipes.
(Find seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening tips every day inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)