Cranberry fields not forever in British Columbia

Canadians consumed 2.6 kilograms fresh cranberries in 2016, but industry faces challenges

Each Canadian consumed 2.6 kilograms fresh cranberries in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada’s cranberry industry centred in British Columbia and Quebec produced 175,066 tons on 7,339 hectares of cultivated land, producing a total farm gate value of $135.3 million.

Native to North America, cranberries grow in cold, natural wetlands, and have served as staple food for many Indigenous people who used them in a variety of ways, according to the BC Cranberries Marketing Commission, which regulates the industry in British Columbia, including outposts on Vancouver Island. This said, the number of cranberry fields is shrinking.

Formal cultivation of cranberries traces back almost 200 years, starting in New England, according to the commission. In the middle of the 19th, Fort Langley emerged as a cranberry trading centre, and the Fraser Valley remains the centre of the provincial industry, which formally emerged after the Second World War. Today, British Columbia accounts for 12 per cent of the North American crop.

By virtue of its history, cranberries have been become an integral part of North American festivities since time immemorial, but also a source of culinary controversy.

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According to an article in Vox, North Americans of non-Native descent have been using cranberry sauce as turkey-specific accompaniment since the late 1700s, a tradition that contributed to the emergence of canned cranberry sauce. As the article notes, its existence is controversial, like many American traditions.

“It is a feat of engineering. It is a culinary wonder. It is an abomination, some say, slandering the cranberry’s good name.”

The BC Cranberries Marketing Commission did not necessarily think so. It shared the article on its Twitter feed.


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