A Day in the Life of a Cranberry

Native wild cranberries of Wisconsin
Native wild cranberries of Wisconsin

This is a story about Wisconsin native cranberries. My sister, Ronnie Hohos, and I were traveling towards Hayward, on Route 77, in October 2011. A cranberry bog was on the left. You couldn’t miss it. The water was red with floating cranberries. We both wanted to see the operation. I turned the minivan around and headed back to the bog. The cranberry business is owned and operated by the Zawistowski family. Wisconsin has the largest cranberry harvests in the country, an average of 60 percent comes from Wisconsin.

Men working in the marsh with berries.
Men working in the marsh with berries.

During the growing season, the berries grow on vines close to the ground. At harvest time, the bogs are flooded. Men on harvesting machines rake the vines to loosen the cranberries.  It was exciting to see the work. Many people stopped their cars and with camera in hand, watched as men worked in a coordinated rhythm. I think the men must be proud to be harvesting a wild edible fruit that feeds so many people during the holidays. Nets were cast out upon the water. Men in the water, dressed in hip boots, raked cranberries towards a waiting truck. The cranberries were herded toward a long moving conveyer belt. The berries went up the belt into a truck bed. When a truck was full, the driver drove the truck to the next processing stage.

Making sure berries are clean of chocking weeds and flowing smoothly up the belt.
Making sure berries are clean of chocking weeds and flowing smoothly up the belt.

Trucks waited in turn to unload berries. A woman kept the conveyer belt free of weeds, while clean berries were downloaded from the marsh truck. Then the cranberries were conveyed up to a delivery truck. The cranberries were now ready to be transported to a warehouse. At the warehouse, cranberries would be cleaned, dried, cooled, and frozen for processing. Fresh fruit was also transported to warehouses where it is cleaned, dried, cooled and delivered for sale.

Cranberries going to a warehouse.
Cranberries going to a warehouse.

What would Thanksgiving be without cranberries? I bought five pounds of fresh cranberries and bagged them, by cupful, into zip lock bags. The berries are in my freezer. I can cook and bake with cranberries, all winter long. Cranberries are good for health. The dark hard fruit contains large amounts of vitamin C. Cranberries are used for urinary tract infection. The berry acidifies the urine and prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder (Balch, 1997).

Old conveyor from years past.
Old conveyor from years past.

According to the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, cranberries contain hippuric acid, which has antibacterial effects on the body, as well as natural antibiotic ingredients. Cranberries may help with atherosclerosis, which is a primary cause of cardiovascular disease. Cranberries minimize the formation of dental plaque. The use of cranberries may be beneficial in the prevention of ulcers, which are linked to stomach cancer and acid reflux disease. To maintain good kidney health, the National Kidney Foundation recommends one large glass of cranberry juice a day.

When I bake berry pies, which is quite frequently in winter, I always add a cup of cranberries. Strawberries are sweet and when added to cranberries, blueberries, and apples, I don’t need to add much sugar. That’s the point. I want to eat berries for health, but not have to pay the price of sugar in my diet. When I use sweeter berries with cranberries it helps sweeten the pie. The juices are rich and colorful. I always add a little organic tapioca to help thicken the pie. It works.

One of my favorite foods is craisins. I buy mine from the cranberry marsh because it takes an average of 6 – 8 hours to bake the berry dry. One can make lots of recipes with cranberries. My sister bought a copy of the Zawistowski Family Cookbook, which she gave to me. One of the recipes, in the book, I learned from, Sheila, the cook at the Minong Senior Center. She adds craisins to meatloaf and it is good. I started making meatloaf using organic grass fed beef, with craisis, and I love it. To learn more about health benefits of cranberries visit at www.cranberryinstitute.org.

It wouldn’t be Wisconsin if we didn’t have an outhouse. Yes, it is probably a relic but then again, maybe not.

Outhouse relic from the past.
Outhouse relic from the past.

Butterfly Corner, May 23, 2011

Dakota Robinson's Story Board on Monarch Migrations.
Dakota Robinson's Story Board on Monarch Migrations.

May 23 – Happy Tonics participated in the “My Secret Garden” event at the Comfort Suites in Hayward hosted by the Cable and Hayward Area Arts Council. The nonprofit’s theme was butterfly gardens. One of the highlights was showing Dakota Robinson’s story board that illustrates the migration route of the monarch butterfly from Mexico to Canada. The youngster started a petition to stop roadside spraying of herbicides and insecticides during migration season. Roads and rivers are the main travel route of monarch butterflies. Herbicides kill milkweed, the host plant and insecticides kill larva and adult butterflies. Many guests attending the garden gala; were familiar with the plight of the monarch butterfly and signed the petition. Others also knew about Shell Lake’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat and plan to come this summer.

May 26 – Mary Ellen Ryall and Dylan Hasbrouck attended a Destination Marketing Organization meeting, at Wild Rivers Outfitters, in Grantsburg. Dylan will be working with Happy Tonics this summer to help maintain the habitat. He is under Fresh Start’s umbrella which is building a house in Shell Lake. Dylan will also be in training to learn Internet marketing skills at the nonprofit’s Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

 In the morning, I stopped at the habitat and did a walk through to see what was starting to grow. Milkweed is emerging and averages 2” to 6” tall.

Monarch eggs on milkweed
Monarch eggs on milkweed

One colony of plants already has a monarch egg on each leaf. This is promising considering how cold and wet the spring has been so far. Remember monarchs do not fly when it is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Monarchs return to Shell Lake about lilac time which is about now. Native June grass is already up. Prairie smoke flower is budding. Oyster plant is at the edible stage. Native shrubs and trees are flourishing and many are in flower including Juneberry, wild black cherry and chokecherry.  Earlier this spring an Experience Works member Mike Kremer applied a good dose of compost and mulch to the trees and shrubs. 

Remember to call in your first monarch butterfly sighting in Shell Lake. You will win a butterfly gift if you report the first sighting. Be sure to note day, time, your location, weather, and temperature as best as you can. Dial 715 468-2097 and leave a message if no answer. Someone will get back to you.

 Please Like Happy Tonics on Facebook. Join the conversations and track events and happenings. Visit us on the Internet and find out about summer events at www.happytonics.org and visit the Blog at www.happytonics.wordpress.com

Event: Environmental Film Festival at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College March 11

Join us for the March Environemental Film Fest
LCOOCC, 13466 Trepania, Hayward, Wisconsin

LCOOCC James “Pipe” Mustache Auditorium
Thursday, March 11th, 2010
Lunch Available on Site @ 11:30am for $5 – Provided by LCO Elders Association
12:00pm  Speaker:  Dr. Damian Vraniak
12:30pm Film: “America’s Lost Landscape: The Tall Grass”
1:30pm Community Discussion – Advocacy to Action

Common Sunflower
Common Sunflower at Damian Vraniak's Prairie in Springbrook, WI.

Prior to Euro American settlement in the 1820s, one of the major landscape features of North America was 240 million acres of tall grass prairie, but between 1830 and 1900 the prairie was steadily transformed to farmland.  This change brought about an enormous social change for Native Americans.  The film creates a powerful and moving viewing experience about the natural and cultural history of America.  Loss of prairie and fragmentation is a loss of many species, plant, animal, and human. (57 minutes) 

Save the Dates for Upcoming Environmental Films and Sustainable Living Education!Thursdays –April 22nd and May 6th

For More Information Contact:  Amber Marlow – GIS Lab/ Rm 508 or @ 634-4790 ext 156


Today We Sing Your Praises

Hand Drum Contest – Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Convention Center, Hayward, WI.  Happy Tonics will be at LCO Ojiwe Community College on Thursday to present a program on Oneida Culture and Corn.  It is all about saving tribal indigenous crop species from extinction. 

Brighter Planet VOTING PERIOD has ended.  Happy Tonics, Inc. received 234 VOTES for their initiative to adapt to Climate Change.  Happy Tonics, Inc. Officers and Board Members wish to thank each and every one of you for your votes.  Today we heard from Michelle L. Voight, Executive Director, of Tourism Washburn County Tourism Association at www.washburncounty.org  Michelle let us know she VOTED for  adapt to Climate Change Native Habitat and Community Garden in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

 We are both members of Destination Marketing Organization at http://wisconsinvisitor.com/?113140   Nancy Herman, Yellow River Advertising and Marketing and Greg Vreeland, Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, are dedicated to letting the public know that we have some great green initiatives to promote Eco tourism and Volunteer Eco vacations in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.  Check out the train schedule in Spooner at http://www.spoonertrainride.com/  to find some interesting short excursions that include meals and other eco friendly activities like the pumpkin train that goes out to a pumpkin patch in the fall.

Monarch Butterfly Habitat
Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Shell Lake, WI, USA copyright Cindy Dyer

 In the summer, right down the road from Spooner is the Monarch Butterfly Habitat that Happy Tonics implements.  The city owned land is now a Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie for many species of butterflies, native bees and dragonflies.  Visitors have even seen ducks, deer and a bear come wandering through the habitat. 

One doesn’t need a lot of land to restore nature back to native habitat.  Native plants are host plants to butterflies and do not require intensive watering.  The plants have very deep roots.  The prairie rose has been known to grow 20 feet down into the soil to tap water.  Can you image lawns doing this?  Why deplete water to maintain a lawn?  Native grasses and wildflowers can do all this with so little in return.   With climate change we need to adapt.  Bless you all for voting and helping to protect Mother Earth. 

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.