Santa likes Aronia

Reduction of anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors in rats after one month of drinking Aronia melanocarpa berry juice.

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Food Funct. 2016 Jul 13;7(7):3111-20. doi: 10.1039/c6fo00321d.
Reduction of anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors in rats after one month of drinking Aronia melanocarpa berry juice.

Tomić M1, Ignjatović Đ1, Tovilović-Kovačević G1, Krstić-Milošević D1, Ranković S2, Popović T2, Glibetić M2.
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The treatment of mood and anxiety disorders by nutraceuticals is gaining growing awareness. Berries of Aronia melanocarpa (Black chokeberry) and their extracts, exceptionally abundant in diverse phenolic compounds, have become famous for the highest in vitro antioxidant activity among fruits and notable health benefits (e.g. anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective). This study was designed to investigate the behavioral effects of month-long unlimited consumption of Aronia master juice (AJ) and/or juice reconstruct without polyphenols (RJ), in young male rats. AJ was initially evaluated for its content of phenolic compounds by spectrophotometric assays and HPLC-DAD. Rats that were supplied with three various water concentrations of AJ and RJ, respectively: 20% + 0% (ARO group), 5% + 15% (RAJ) and 0 + 20% (PLC), were compared with those which consumed only water (CTL). Daily drinking of AJ solution was significantly elevated from the second or third week onward, which was most expressed in the ARO group. Only this group displayed behavioral variations, manifested by certain hyperactivity in open field tests and prominent reductions of anxiety-like behaviors in the elevated plus maze. The ARO rats also expressed an alleviation of depression-like behavior in forced swimming tests. These findings demonstrate the beneficial behavioral effects of the one-month-long free drinking of phenolic-rich AJ in rats (>20 ml per kg b. mass daily) that may be recognized as stimulating, anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like. The in vitro assays suggested that MAO-A/MAO-B inhibitions by the phenolic compounds of AJ might be the possible in vivo mechanisms for such behavioral actions.

[PubMed – in process]

Cognitive-Enhancing Effect of Aronia melanocarpa Extract against Memory Impairment Induced by Scopolamine in Mice.

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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:6145926. doi: 10.1155/2016/6145926. Epub 2016 Apr 30.
Cognitive-Enhancing Effect of Aronia melanocarpa Extract against Memory Impairment Induced by Scopolamine in Mice.

Lee HY1, Weon JB2, Jung YS2, Kim NY2, Kim MK1, Ma CJ3.
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Aronia melanocarpa (A. melanocarpa) berries are a fruit with a marked antioxidant effect. The objective of this study was to confirm the effect of A. melanocarpa berries extract against scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice using the Morris water maze and passive avoidance test. Moreover, we determined a possible mechanism of the cognitive-enhancing effect involving AChE activity and BDNF and p-CREB expression in the hippocampus of mice. A. melanocarpa berries extract attenuated the learning and memory impairment induced by scopolamine in the Morris water maze (79.3 ± 0.8 s of 200 mg/kg and 64.4 ± 10.7 s of 400 mg/kg on day 4) and passive avoidance tests (46.0 ± 41.1 s of 200 mg/kg and 25.6 ± 18.7 s of 400 mg/kg). A. melanocarpa berries extract reduced the acetylcholinesterase level in the hippocampus of scopolamine-injected mice and increased BDNF and p-CREB expression in the hippocampus. The major compound, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, also reversed memory impairment. These results showed that A. melanocarpa berries extract improved memory impairment by inhibiting AChE and increasing BDNF and p-CREB expression, and cyanidin-3-O-galactoside may be responsible for the effect of A. melanocarpa berries extract.

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Food Funct. 2016 Jul 13;7(7):3111-20. doi: 10.1039/c6fo00321d.

Getting it Right. How Will Your Aronia Be Used?

Guest article from Bernie Lager III – Arise Nutrition, LLC

Our company has developed and commercialized many cranberry-derived ingredients. Over the last several months we’ve taken a closer look at aronia; we’ve identified several routes to market made possible by processing the fruit into food ingredients. The available North American aronia supply is small relative to these market opportunities. But, it is large enough to get started!

In food production, consistency of quality is essential. Having discussed aronia with several growers, we recognized there would be great variation in the fruit harvested this year. The best way for us to plan for production was to see that variation first hand.

So, in late August we took the next step with aronia by handling fruit from about twenty five growers in our food-grade facility in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. Our facility handles fresh and frozen cranberries, so aronia was not too much of a stretch. However, this project did involve setting up new equipment, defining standard operating procedures, developing food-safety and traceability records, and acquiring additional temporary staff.

I am sure that many members have seen aronia fruit being cleaned; some of you may have even been here at our facility to see our line run. I’ll describe it for those who aren’t yet familiar with the process.
The fruit lugs are staged for dumping onto a feed conveyor. This provides an opportunity to visually inspect the fruit and maintain a consistent rate for the whole processing line. Following that, leaves, insects, stems and dried-up fruit are removed by a blower. Among all that debris we even found a six-inch praying mantis, which I gladly took home for my children!

The fruit then goes over a de-stemmer – which removes stems from the fruit bunches and from individual berries. Then, individual berries roll down a tilt table; the tilt table sorts damaged and soft berries from round berries based upon how well they roll. The tilt table requires a watchful eye and fine-tuning – especially relative to fruit quality and feed rate.

The berries then are conveyed through a tank filled with an organic, food-grade sanitizer. Besides cutting down on microbiological loads, this tank cleans surface “dirt.” Excess sanitizer is blown off the fruit prior to final visual inspection, packaging and freezing.

The four weeks of aronia cleaning were a challenge and a lot of fun for our production team. I enjoyed meeting many new people that were essential to keeping the line running well. After the first few days, it was clear where people belonged on the line, based upon their strengths. Big Dan was perfect for handling lugs at the feed conveyor. Josefina was fast and accurate at visual inspection, thanks to her previous experience on cranberry sorting lines. And, given their previous jobs at other local food processors, several others were trained to assist in quality checks and cleanup.

Throughout the season we harvested lots that had varying ratios of small, medium and large fruit. In addition, we saw hand-picked fruit and machine-harvested fruit with varying amounts of non-fruit material (stems, leaves and insects). Both of these characteristics can affect the cleaning process, and fruit size can be an important quality attribute for certain downstream processes. As production volumes increase, it will be important to recognize and control for these characteristics of harvested fruit.

Besides size and non-fruit debris, several other quality issues were apparent and are of great importance for the downstream processes. These quality issues included bird/insect damage, sunburn, soft fruit, shriveled fruit, berries from other plants, and spotted wing drosophila larvae. For many harvested lots, the berries that had these quality issues were less than three percent of the lot by weight. However, we did handle lots where these quality issues exceeded 15% of the total weight.

It is not possible to completely eliminate these quality issues. However, it is possible to minimize their impact on the fruit quality overall. When more growers aim for the same quality standard, there will be greater consistency in a larger fruit supply that will allow for larger, more exacting processors to develop and market products to more consumers. As a processor, we are happy to support the implementation of quality standards that are important for this developing supply chain.

We, at Arise Nutrition, are committed to developing food ingredients and finished products that preserve the amazing nutritional characteristics and health benefits of aronia. We are busy building a product line from aronia that includes dehydrated powders for nutraceuticals and infused fruits for healthy snacks. Aronia can do much good in the world and we are excited to be a part of it. We look forward to more interaction with growers, handlers, researchers and others who are working hard to grow this industry in the United States. Learn about Arise Nutrition.

Mead Market Growth Supports Aronia Growers

Megan’s Interview with Wayne Spohnheimer

Buzzed Bee Aronia Mead

Aronia Mead at Buzzed Bee Meadery

Did you know mead is the fastest growing segment of the alcohol industry? Did you know aronia is the perfect fruit from mead? So says Wayne Spohnheimer, co-owner of Buzzed Bee Meadery, a new meadery in Central Iowa. Wayne is joined by his wife Michelle and their young son in their mead making adventures. Wayne and Julia had been homesteading for years and got into honey production when he needed pollination for his fruit trees and berry plants.

Being Intentional

Wayne and Julia really thought about exactly what they needed to start a meadery. They moved to a beautiful new property in the country that easily attracts visitors. The house was suitable for building a production facility that met code too. Wayne said, “Michelle works with local government and her combination of skills helped us get through the paperwork to ensure we were getting all the needed permits and meeting the required regulations.” Buzzed Bee is small scale, just the way they like it right now. Their basement production facility includes ten 80-gallon stainless steel tanks, all small-batch recipes. Visitors get a warmth in their bellies and their backs when they visit the tasting room. The tasting room is located in a sun room attached to the house.

Going Digital

Facebook has been instrumental to their success. MAA board member Corey Hillebo learned about the new meadery on facebook. “Facebook has become the new word of mouth,” says Wayne. Small agritourism destinations like Buzzed Bee Meadery are great for locals and out of towners. Facebook can easily spread your agritourism destination through local networks, and you can also place Facebook ads to have a more targeted reach.

Aronia, the Perfect Ingredient for Mead

Aronia had been on Wayne’s radar. There’s an increasing demand from the public for functional foods. Aronia’s high antioxidant levels and anti-cancer compounds make it an attractive ingredient for the meadery. Aronia’s unique flavor and high tannins pair perfectly for mead making. Buzzed Bee adds the berries to the musk for about a week before they are removed to finish off the mead.

Building Relationships with Buyers

Wayne said he’s had great relationships with the growers he purchases aronia from because they talk to one another. “I let them know what I’m looking for in my berries, each buyer has a different need. For me, I want a good plump ripe berry. In my operation, I can be flexible with the brix levels.” The growers that work with him are good about communicating when they think harvest will happen. Talking in advance about how crops should be packaged and delivered can be helpful too. Buzzed Bee was happy to be contacted by an aronia farmer. Wayne didn’t mind being approached by the grower about purchasing aronia. “They did a good job educating me on the benefits of the fruit and what it can do in fermented beverages.”

Buzzed Bee has 3 tanks of aronia mead fermenting currently. Visit Buzzed Bee Meadery and give it a try! Regular open hours are Thur. 4-7pm, Sat. noon-5pm. MAA will be coordinating a winter visit to Buzzed Bee. Watch the newsletter for further details.

Iowa Field Day Roundup

Submitted by Sherry Gerlock/MAA member of Elk Horn, Iowa

Field Day at What Berry Farm.

Field Day at What Berry Farm.

It was a cool, rainy morning at the “What” Berry Farm Aronia Field Day.  It didn’t stop friends and family with curiosity, vision, and questions to arrive at an aronia farm that two people had dreamt and built in 2011. Dean Mangrich and Donna Costello launched their 3rd annual field day event. Morning coffee and aronia juice, along with delicious aronia homemade goodies filled our tummies as we listened to speakers and had a tour of the farm.

Attendees were able to learn about the Victor Harvester. The first Victor Harvester sold and delivered to the US took a long journey, but arrived just in time, along with representatives from Poland to explain the workings of the machine. Berries were harvested and people watched with eager questions. Adriana Foxen, County Executive Director of Buchanon County Farm Service Agency spoke about N.A.P. Insurance. Kent Friechrichsen, organic grower and specialist in organic fertility, spoke on growing healthy, high quality plants to produce high quality food. After a delicious lunch of aronia brats and hamburgers, grilled to perfection, we had three more workshops in the afternoon. Workshops included: New Potential Growers, How to Batch Brew Aronia Kombucha Tea, and Dr. Andrew Ritsvey spoke on plant nutrition, irrigation efficiency, green roof systems and sustainable alternative crop production.

It was a delightful and informative event! Thank you to Dean and Donna for their service to help others succeed.

What Did We Learn: 2016 Aronia Harvest

Guest article from Dean Mangrich

What did we learn in 2016? That aronia is like growing any other crop. Weather rules all! Starting with the frost that hit on the morning of May 14 a lot of the northern area was affected. From a total loss to a little damage in fields where growers

Crops at Dean's farm.

Crops at Dean’s farm.

didn’t notice because they weren’t looking. One degree higher or lower made a big difference in the amount of damage that occurred. We can provide more information on what to look for and ideas to help prevent frost damage in an upcoming newsletter.

The two weeks of 90 degree days and warm nights in early June were no friends to our aronia plants either. It was only as the berries started to change color and fill did we see that things were different this year. It took forever for all of the berries to change color. So what did your field look like at harvest time? All over the place we saw on the same plant berries that went from still being red in color to shriveled up and falling on the ground. This made it difficult to harvest. It went from just touching the plant the berries would fall off to having to be aggressive enough to get the berries off the plant.

In general the production was down off of growers estimates by a common of 25% to as high as 75%. If there is one thing that we are learning about aronia is that it is a fickle plant to grow. We have so much to learn! Help yourself be a better grower for the future. Take pictures and take notes as to what you are seeing and when. This should be done weekly. Over time hopefully we can start to draw some conclusions as to what might be ahead for the growing season.

What’s ahead for 2017? Well we can’t control the weather but what we can do is start to plan for the 2017 harvest. Yes, now is the time to start planning. With increasing production and a lot of new plants starting to produce, harvesters will become scarce. Custom harvesters alone will not be able to keep up with the demand. One might consider working with another grower or two and purchase an aronia berry harvester. You are growing aronia so buy a harvester designed to harvest aronia…NOT just a berry harvester. There is a BIG difference. If you are looking to have your berries custom harvested then get on someone’s list even if you plan to hand harvest get on their list! Contact me if you have any questions.

Updates from the President

Regional Group Activities

In July, the Aronia Growers of Wisconsin Regional Group sponsored a Mother Earth News Fair booth in West Bend, Wisconsin. In August, your Board member, Corey Hillebo worked with Peggy Fogle, Erlene Fopma and other volunteers to staff a booth at the Iowa State Fair. This is an excellent Aronia outreach and awareness opportunity. Over 100,000 attend this fair. Next year we need more early volunteer signups for the 10 fair days to enable continued MAA sponsorship. Many of us should be eager to share 4 hours of our time for this endeavor.

Increase Funding for Aronia

In early August, MAA sent a survey to our members to acquire contact information from those interested in being contacted by the USDA to contribute to their 2017 Agriculture survey in an attempt to establish Aronia as a distinct crop. Your participation in the survey helped us justify future funding for aronia research and marketing. Thank you!

Membership Drive

October will be the start of our Membership renewal drive. Please note, your 2017 membership will include a free listing on our Aronia Connection page. However, you will need to provide us with this information on the membership application form which will allow us to create a posting for you. This listing is an excellent way to expand your business visibility and make it easier for us to direct inquiries to your product or services. MAA has been receiving increasing requests for berries, products and services. NOW would be a great time to get noticed!

Save the Date for Conference

Looking toward a new membership year reminds me of our annual conference. Plans are coming together for the 2017 Conference. Stay tuned for updates from Steve Nabity and Addie Kinghorn who are planning this event. We heard you and we are hoping to include many marketing topics at this year’s conference. If you can help or would like to speak and/or make a presentation, please contact Addie (402-578-4678) or Steve (402-740-7115).

Elections for Board of Directors

Some of the MAA Board members will be cycling off soon. Most importantly, we are looking for a dedicated, experienced accountant or bookkeeper to fill the role of Treasurer.  Our current Treasurer is unable to continue fulfilling her responsibilities through 2017.  It takes all the resources we can muster to accomplish goals and meet your needs. Please consider stepping forward to fill these vital leadership roles. You may contact any Board member to express your interest. If you have not already been contacted by Megan or a Board member, we may be connecting with you soon to ask some questions about your membership experiences and engaging with MAA in a more substantial way.

See you at conference!

Roberta Barham
MAA President

Food Labels & Marketing: The Rules are Changing

We hope you enjoyed our webinar. A recording of the event is available below. A pdf of the slides can be found at Click here for a PDF of the Webinar.

Space is filling fast for the full-day U.S. Food Labeling Seminar on Oct. 26 at Newark Airport. Click here to register for the Webinar.

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