Cancer-beating superfood berry enjoys bumper year

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The aronia berry can be consumed in many forms. Picture: Getty

The aronia berry can be consumed in many forms.

by JANE BRADLEY
Published on the 27 September 2014

Scottish producers of a new “superfood” berry – which has been said to have the ability to make cancer treatments more effective – are enjoying a bumper crop.

One of the main producers of the aronia berry, Thomas Thomson in Perthshire, said the recent warm spell will almost double their crop compared with last year due to 
favourable growing conditions.

The firm said it expects this year’s harvest to total ten tonnes – up from just six tonnes last year.

The berries, which originate from America and were a staple of the Native American diet, were brought to Russia in the late 1800s and cultivated in other parts of eastern and central Europe.

Last week, researchers revealed that the fruit, which is also known as “chokeberry”, may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug used to treat pancreatic cancer.

Company director Peter Thomson said he chanced upon the berries at the end of the 1990s when he was offered them by a Norwegian grower who was visiting the UK to promote aronias. Mr Thomson, who is the main supplier of the berry to supermarket giant Tesco, said: “We did some research and were impressed by their nutritional qualities and initially grew them to make juice.

“In 2007, we decided to grow them to sell fresh and planted one-and-a-half hectares. Last year, we produced six tonnes and, this year, if the fine weather continues, we look set to harvest ten tonnes.”

The fruit has a purple, almost black colour and a unique taste with a tartness said to be similar to the flavour of a cranberry, but with a slight sweetness that can be compared to that of a 
bramble.

The aronia berry can be consumed in many forms including in jam, yoghurts, juice, tea and wine.

‘Superfood’ berries benefit from raw food trend

Click here for original story
In line with raw food and a healthy lifestyle in general, berries have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. The consumption of blueberries in particular increases significantly, but other berries grow in popularity as well.

 

Honey berry
A little-known berry is the honey berry. The honey berry, also called blue honeysuckle, is originally from Asia. The fruits are very healthy and look a lot like blueberries. The bittersweet berry is already very appreciated abroad, and now increasingly finds its way to domestic consumers. Some varieties can be eaten immediately. Others are only suitable for processing because they are too bitter. The cooperative auction BelOrta introduced the Japanese honey berry this season, under the name haskap. In Canada and the United States, the berry is quite popular, and a number of Belgian growers have started working with Canadian honey berry plants, the first volumes becoming available this year. “It’s still a bit of a niche product for us,” says Mieke Thoelen of BelOrta. “We expect to receive a limited volume, which won’t even come under auction. Next year though, we expect to offer more honey berries, considering production is on the rise.”

Thoelen notes that the whole range of small fruit is picking up steam, the blueberries in particular. “Globally, consumption increases, there’s no doubt about that. Consumers are starting to really appreciate blueberries. It is not only a tasty, but also very much a convenient product. In addition, the berry is riding the current superfood wave, making it extra popular.” This year’s berry season is underway, and according to Thoelen the large volumes are starting to arrive. Producers are locating the products through dealers in supermarkets at home and abroad. “We see a growing demand, especially from Scandinavia, where soft fruit is quite popular. Strawberry export to Scandinavia for example, is really taking off.”

The future of the soft fruit is therefore positive, though there are still challenges. One poignant example being quality, which remains an issue as it may discourage consumers from future purchases, as well as crop diversification to provide the market with soft fruit for as long as possible. “Many consumers still consider soft fruit a luxury product. By intensifying promotion and increasing availability we may be able to change this.”

Aronia berry
The Aronia, also known as chokeberry, is taking off globally. The Aronia is genetically related to the Cranberry, but is said to contain five to ten times as many antioxidants. The berry is not widely grown, but production is increasing. In Switzerland in 2009, Aronia Schweiz was set up in the belief that the berry would play an important role in a market increasingly concerned with conscious and healthy diet. The 43 members now have a combined acreage of 40 hectares. In 2013, IG Aronia Schweiz distributed about 28 tons of berries on the market. The berries are sold fresh (dishes of 250 grams), dried (cool and sealed) or as a juice. Fresh Aronia berries are commonly used for jam, ice cream or cake. With 220 hectares, the German state of Saxony may consider itself a true berry region. The Aronia berries grow on 96 hectares, acreage having thus increased considerably. For 2013, a growth of 34 hectares was recorded.

In the Netherlands, the Aronia is grown on a small scale, predominantly in the north of the country. The berries are marketed under the Frisian Waldpyk label: the brand for products and services from the region. The berry is grown here in an ecological way. Grower De Hagen is one of the producers of the Waldpyk Aronia berry. Jenny Kuiper, together with her brother Willem, is running the company her father started 39 years ago. She agrees that there is an increasing demand for the berry. “We note that health awareness increases, but we also get lots of people who want their children to show that fruit does not grow in the supermarket.”
mieke.thoelen@belorta.be

Introducing aronia berries, Iowa’s superfood

“Native Americans used it in all kinds of ways for medicinal purposes. It even has a natural SPF. But it was run off by farmers who wanted the land for corn and beans,” says Bob Pertzborn.

Bob Pertzborn drives around town in a van advertising Pertzborn Insurance. Which makes sense, because that’s his business. During the late summer, though, inside the van are the real fruits of his labor: more freshly harvested aronia berries than he could have imagined when he planted 1,000 aronia bushes in 2011. And frankly, more than he knows what to do with at the moment.

There could be quite a few growers in the same boat. A member of the board of the Midwest Aronia Association, Pertzborn said there are probably nearly 100,000 aronia plants growing within 20 miles of his plot near Ankeny.

It’s not that Pertzborn, 54, and his wife, Kathy, 56, haven’t made some plans or sold any berries. It’s just that there’s so many all of a sudden.

“The bushes are supposed to double their production each year until they top out about 25 to 30 pounds per plant,” Bob said. “Last year, I got about 1,000 pounds.” He shook his head as he gazed at row after row of bushes so laden with fruit that the branches are lying on the ground. “I’m going to get about 5,000 pounds.”

That’s a lot of aronia berries to pick — by hand — for what is mostly a two-person operation, especially when those two persons both have full-time jobs off the “farm.” Kathy works as a dietitian at Blank Children’s Hospital.

Wheels were turning

It’s all Kathy’s fault. She discovered aronia berries by accident on a county extension bus trip to the loess hills in western Iowa. The bus made a stop at Sawmill Hollow Family Farm in Missouri Valley for a look at the first aronia berry farm in the U.S. Vaughn and Cindy Pittz and their son Andrew of Sawmill Hollow planted their first 207 aronia bushes in 1995.

Kathy bought some of the farm’s food products and loved them. So, she dragged Bob along on her next trip to restock.

“We ended up visiting with (Vaughn) for an hour and I could just see the smoke coming out of Bob’s brain. I mean, I just wanted to buy another jar of salad dressing,” Kathy said, laughing.

She knew her entrepreneurial husband’s wheels were turning.

Shortly thereafter, Bob ordered 2,000 aronia bushes to plant on a 3-acre plot near his childhood home, which his father still owns. The fields were once planted in corn and soybeans but had lain fallow for at least 10 years.

A hardy, native crop

So why aronia berries? Ask that question of the Pertzborns and they’ll both wax eloquent about everything aronia. The entrepreneurial opportunities, the fact that aronias once grew like weeds here, the berries’ nutritional wow factors, the boon to small farmers.

In any case, listening to them list the attributes of the once-lowly choke­berry, as it is also called, it’s easy to wonder why everybody isn’t in the aronia business.

Hardiness: “This crop is native to North America,” Bob said. “Native Americans used it in all kinds of ways for medicinal purposes. It even has a natural SPF. But it was run off by farmers who wanted the land for corn and beans.”

Aronias are drought-, pest- and disease-resistant, too, and they adapt well to a wide range of soil types and conditions.

Sustainability: Because the plants are native and hardy, there is little reason to use chemicals, so most aronias grown in the U.S. are organic. The plants are also long-lived perennials so the same ones can be harvested for decades.

“That’s also an attractive economic equation,” Bob added.

‘Superfood’ berries benefit from raw food trend

Click Here for original story

In line with raw food and a healthy lifestyle in general, berries have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. The consumption of blueberries in particular increases significantly, but other berries grow in popularity as well.

 

Honey berry
A little-known berry is the honey berry. The honey berry, also called blue honeysuckle, is originally from Asia. The fruits are very healthy and look a lot like blueberries. The bittersweet berry is already very appreciated abroad, and now increasingly finds its way to domestic consumers. Some varieties can be eaten immediately. Others are only suitable for processing because they are too bitter. The cooperative auction BelOrta introduced the Japanese honey berry this season, under the name haskap. In Canada and the United States, the berry is quite popular, and a number of Belgian growers have started working with Canadian honey berry plants, the first volumes becoming available this year. “It’s still a bit of a niche product for us,” says Mieke Thoelen of BelOrta. “We expect to receive a limited volume, which won’t even come under auction. Next year though, we expect to offer more honey berries, considering production is on the rise.”

Thoelen notes that the whole range of small fruit is picking up steam, the blueberries in particular. “Globally, consumption increases, there’s no doubt about that. Consumers are starting to really appreciate blueberries. It is not only a tasty, but also very much a convenient product. In addition, the berry is riding the current superfood wave, making it extra popular.” This year’s berry season is underway, and according to Thoelen the large volumes are starting to arrive. Producers are locating the products through dealers in supermarkets at home and abroad. “We see a growing demand, especially from Scandinavia, where soft fruit is quite popular. Strawberry export to Scandinavia for example, is really taking off.”

The future of the soft fruit is therefore positive, though there are still challenges. One poignant example being quality, which remains an issue as it may discourage consumers from future purchases, as well as crop diversification to provide the market with soft fruit for as long as possible. “Many consumers still consider soft fruit a luxury product. By intensifying promotion and increasing availability we may be able to change this.”

Aronia berry
The Aronia, also known as chokeberry, is taking off globally. The Aronia is genetically related to the Cranberry, but is said to contain five to ten times as many antioxidants. The berry is not widely grown, but production is increasing. In Switzerland in 2009, Aronia Schweiz was set up in the belief that the berry would play an important role in a market increasingly concerned with conscious and healthy diet. The 43 members now have a combined acreage of 40 hectares. In 2013, IG Aronia Schweiz distributed about 28 tons of berries on the market. The berries are sold fresh (dishes of 250 grams), dried (cool and sealed) or as a juice. Fresh Aronia berries are commonly used for jam, ice cream or cake. With 220 hectares, the German state of Saxony may consider itself a true berry region. The Aronia berries grow on 96 hectares, acreage having thus increased considerably. For 2013, a growth of 34 hectares was recorded.

In the Netherlands, the Aronia is grown on a small scale, predominantly in the north of the country. The berries are marketed under the Frisian Waldpyk label: the brand for products and services from the region. The berry is grown here in an ecological way. Grower De Hagen is one of the producers of the Waldpyk Aronia berry. Jenny Kuiper, together with her brother Willem, is running the company her father started 39 years ago. She agrees that there is an increasing demand for the berry. “We note that health awareness increases, but we also get lots of people who want their children to show that fruit does not grow in the supermarket.”
mieke.thoelen@belorta.be

 

In season: Aronia

What it is: Aronia berry, also known as chokeberry.

Where it’s grown: The plant is native to the Great Lakes region, and grows well here. It’s best known as a hardy landscaping plant that in recent years is gaining interest as a food producer.

“A lot of people don’t realize you can eat the berries,” said Dale Secher of Oregon’s Carandale Farm, who grows them as part of the uncommon fruit project with UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. He and his wife, Cindy, sell them fresh.

In Brooklyn, Bellbrook Berry Farm became the state’s first commercial aronia operation in 2006. The farm grows 11 acres of berries that are then packaged and sold frozen. The farm also sells the aronia plants.

Taste: The berries are sour. They look like blueberries but the taste is much different, as is the texture. The difference is great enough that Dale and Cindy Secher have a sign at the Dane County Farmers’ Market that says, “Not blueberries.”

The Sechers describe the taste like a dry red wine, but say the flavor is offset when it’s used with other fruits, juices or dairy.

William O’Brien of Bellbrook Farm notices a change when the berries freeze, and says he can’t explain it.

“Once it’s been frozen, it’s a totally different flavor,” he said. “It’s sweeter and tangier.”

How it’s used: Because the berries taste better used with dairy or frozen, they are a popular smoothie ingredient, O’Brien said. He also likes to swap them out for raisins in oatmeal raisin cookies. The Sechers like to use them for pies and crisps and also know of their use in meat sauces. The juices can be used in many ways — added to other juices, as well as to alcoholic beverages.

Season: Aronia arrive later than most berries in Wisconsin, with a harvest that begins in mid- to late August. If refrigerated, Dale Secher said, they’ll store longer than raspberries or strawberries.

Nutrition: Aronia proponents tout their strong antioxidants, saying they have three times the antioxidants of blueberries.

Where to buy: Carandale Farm berries are available fresh at the Dane County Farmers’ Market, Metcalfe’s Market and the Willy Street Co-op. Bellbrook’s frozen berries are available at Willy Street Co-op, Metcalfe’s Market, Hy-Vee in Fitchburg, the Jenifer Street Market, Trillium Co-op in Mount Horeb and Yahara Grocery Co-op in Stoughton.

Sources: Carandale Farm, Bellbrook Berry Farm

Read more: http://host.madison.com/lifestyles/food_and_cooking/in-season-aronia/article_bddd3e63-3b58-5b95-a7e2-a54874342812.html#ixzz3BcLvina6

Aronia berry gaining market foothold in U.S.

By MARGERY A. BECK
Monday, August 18, 2014
Picture
Click image to enlarge

Andrew Pittz of the Sawmill Hollow aronia berry farm carries a tray of aronia berry seedlings in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Thursday. A few years ago, few people had ever heard of the Aronia berry, a pretty, but tart fruit. Now, the berry has set its sights on becoming the next “superfood” and is in hundreds of products worldwide. (AP photo)

MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa — A new fruit that research says packs more antioxidants than popular “superfoods” like blueberries, acai berries and goji berries is establishing itself in the aisles of mainstream grocery stores, showing up in everything from juices to powdered supplements to baby food.

Its rise from being a novelty item at farmers markets into a multimillion-dollar U.S. industry even includes a name change, from the common chokeberry — so named centuries ago by European settlers who found the tart, astringent berry more pretty than palatable — to the aronia berry, derived from its genus, Aronia melanocarpa.

The native North American berry was introduced in Russia and eastern Europe in the early 20th century and has been cultivated there for juices and wines. Now, farmers throughout the upper Midwest are planting the shrubs by the thousands every year. But the industry’s roots in the U.S. can be traced to Sawmill Hollow Family Farm in the Loess Hills of western Iowa, where most in the industry believe the first bushes were planted for commercial cultivation in the U.S.

Andrew Pittz, 28, is the driving force behind the aronia berry’s emergence. His family was looking for a crop they could cultivate on the hilly, silt-heavy soil near the Missouri River, and in 1997, Pittz’s parents planted some 200 bushes. The bush grows well in the Midwest, has few pests and doesn’t have to be replanted every year.

The Pittz family was successful: Sawmill Hollow products now are sold in about half of Hy-Vee’s 237 stores, and in all of Whole Foods’ 45 Midwest-region stores, according to spokeswomen for the chains. Rather than keep the berry and its economic potential under wraps, Pittz and his family have been spreading word far and wide — especially throughout Iowa.

The farm holds an annual field day that draws thousands in September, and Pittz planted bushes in all 99 Iowa counties last year. Even Iowa State University is helping promote the berry as a value-added crop and a good way to diversify farm income, offering grants to help people get started.

“We want the aronia berry to be to Iowa’s Heartland what the peach is to Georgia.” Pittz said.

His family also has taught others how to plant, grow and market the almost black-purple, pea-sized berries. They even share best practices for pruning the bushes for maximum yield, which they developed over nearly 18 years of trial and error. A mature bush at four to five years can produce up to 20 pounds.

Consumers are taking notice of the potential health benefits, said Stacey Loftus, Hy-Vee’s health and wellness supervisor. Research published last year in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry says aronia’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity — a standard measurement of antioxidant strength — shows the berry has one of the highest values ever recorded for a fruit.

“I don’t think this is a passing fad,” she said.

Antioxidants help protect cells from damage, although there are questions in the medical field as to what role antioxidants play in helping prevent human disease. Federal regulators have, in recent years, targeted companies that have made unsubstantiated health claims about antioxidant-containing products. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission upheld a judge’s decision that POM Wonderful made deceptive claims that its pomegranate products could treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and other illnesses. The FTC’s action is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

More than 440 new products containing aronia — mostly in juices, wines and other drinks — have been introduced worldwide in the last five years; about 60 of those are in the United States, according to the 2013 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center’s Product Traffic Report, supported by the U.S. Agriculture Department to track new food products.

Aside from Sawmill Hollow products, widely distributed mainstream brands have jumped on board, such as Old Orchard juices and Beechnut baby foods, which introduced an apple and aronia berries puree this year.

The first aronia cooperative — the North America Aronia Cooperative, based in Omaha, Nebraska — was formed earlier this year with members from 10 Midwestern and Great Plains states. Group president Colleen Nipp says the co-op is capable of producing up to 20 million pounds of fruit a year and estimates the current economic impact is about $85 million, “which includes plant sales, berry sales, processing charges, harvesting equipment, growing supplies, irrigation equipment and the sale of finished aronia products.”

But with the industry is in its infancy, it’s difficult to provide overall yearly production numbers or even a common price per pound. Midwest Aronia Association president Melissa Ehrman Johnson says her group, which has members in 12 states and Ontario, Canada, has farmers fetching anywhere from 50 cents per pound to $7.50 a pound.

Johnson and her husband got into business in 2009, planting about 300 bushes on their 10-acre homestead in southwest Iowa farm. The venture has already proved to be profitable, she said, as she’s hoping to move from on-site sales to commercial marketing this year.

There is much to be learned, Johnson says, from another industry that has seen enormous success with its own bitter berry: the cranberry industry.

“We actually have a gentleman who’s on the Cranberry Association who has worked with us from the early get-go to help us out with ideas along the way, particularly with processing … and recipe and product development,” she said.

 

Picture
Click image to enlarge

Andrew Pittz of the Sawmill Hollow aronia berry farm offers samples and sells aronia berry products at Whole Foods Market in Omaha, Neb., Friday, April 25. A few years ago, few people had ever heard of the Aronia berry, a pretty, but tart fruit. Now, the berry has set its sights on becoming the next “superfood” and is in hundreds of products worldwide. (AP photo)

 

 

Picture
Click image to enlarge

Andrew Pittz of the Sawmill Hollow aronia berry farm looks over aronia berry plants in his orchard in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Thursday, April 24. A few years ago, few people had ever heard of the Aronia berry, a pretty, but tart fruit. Now, the berry has set its sights on becoming the next “superfood” and is in hundreds of products worldwide. (AP photo)

 

Aronia Berries for Amagansett?

A Missouri farmer extols the health benefits of new ‘super food’

Aronia berries, described as a new “super food.”

Details of one proposal submitted to East Hampton Town for use of the 19-acre Amagansett Farm, purchased by the town this year to prevent its development as luxury over-50 housing, were provided this week by Henry C. Blazer, a Missouri and 25-year East Hampton resident.

Mr. Blazer, known as Chip, and a partner, Seymour Ross of East Hampton, would like to grow aronia berries, described as an up-and-coming new “super food.”

Their project is one of six being considered by the town. The competing proposals, which will be vetted by the town’s community preservation fund committee before a recommendation is made to the town board, include two from local farmers — Good Water Farms and the Bunker Hill Corner Farm Collaborative — one from a Montauk horse breeder, one from the South Fork Country Club together with Balsam Farm of Amagansett, and the sixth from George Stankevich, an East Hampton attorney. Mr. Stankevich submitted a letter on behalf of “several ultra-high-net-worth individuals, Fortune 500 companies, and local founding families” interested in using the property; the letter did not say how. The Star reported last week on details of the various proposals.

Mr. Blazer and his brother, Steve Blazer, operate Blazer Farmz in the Missouri Valley, where they have grown and distributed aronia berries for over five years, along with elderberry, black currants, paw paw, chestnuts, and other crops.

The bushes, which are native to North America and indigenous on the East End, bear a purple fruit the size of a blueberry that has been lauded for its high antioxidant content. The berries, with a taste similar to wine grapes, can be eaten fresh, Chip Blazer said this week, or pressed for juice. They are also used as ingredients in many other products, from baked goods to jams, tea, salsa, and ice cream, to cosmetics, and are added to wine grapes to enhance taste, he said.

Commonly called chokeberry, the perennial, deciduous plants grow wild in Montauk and are often installed as a landscape plant; there are bushes around some East Hampton Town buildings, and they are included on a town-approved list of native plants. They have dark green leaves that turn red in the fall, and creamy white flowers in spring. The purple-black berries ripen in August.

According to Blazer Farmz’s proposal, “the aronia berry will only add to the biodiversity of our local produce and not be competitive. The new fruit should stimulate new business relationships in the food, health, beverage, and the wine industries.”

The berries would be raised organically on a 10-acre section of the land, with 56 rows of bushes between “wide lanes of grass,” creating, the proposal says, “a unique picturesque landscape similar to [a] grape vineyard, minus the trellises.”

The aronia farmers would create a reception and information area on the main floor of an existing barn. They said they would seek certification to use the kitchen for small-batch juicing and berry processing, and would share or lease it to other food producers as well.

A seasonal farm stand outside the barn would offer not only berries but other local foods. The berry farmers would also consider providing space to other local small food producers, Mr. Blazer said.

According to a letter from Dr. Eldon R. Everhart, a horticultural consultant provided as a reference, aronia has been a profitable crop in Eastern Europe for more than 75 years. Mr. Everhart, formerly of Iowa State University, which has helped promote the berry as a viable crop, predicted that in this country, aronia berry production will rival the cranberry and blueberry industries combined within the next few years. Aronia berries, he said, have more antioxidants than both of those fruits as well as grapes, acai berries, goji berries, and others.

The consultant cited Mr. Blazer’s experience in growing, marketing, and processing the berries, and said a new aronia farm here would “enhance the entire aronia industry.”

Also included in the proposal are a number of articles and research papers that address the growing production and use of aronia berries, and their properties. A bibliography of scientific publications includes articles about aronia’s possible therapeutic effect on cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments. A recent article from The New York Daily News describes aronia as a new “superfood” increasingly showing up in food products.

Mr. Blazer said this week that the berry production would be an “ecofriendly . . . low-impact type of farming” that could be a “win-win” and a “great story for the town.”

Also this week, a farmer involved in two of the competing bids to lease the Amagansett acreage sought to clarify his involvement in the South Fork Country Club’s proposal to use the majority of the site for a golf driving range. Ian Calder-Piedmonte, a partner in Balsam Farms of Amagansett, which has also proposed a joint use of the land with Amber Waves Farm and Britton Bistrian under the  Bunker Hill Corner Farm Collaborative name, would farm some of the acreage under the golf club’s competing proposal, but said that his farm “is really not partners” in the golf club bid.

“The proposal was put forth by South Fork,” he said. “Balsam Farm doesn’t endorse the bid, except in that we have agreed to farm the agricultural area, and use part of the barn for agricultural use. We think our competing bid is a better use.”

The golf club’s submission maintains that since the resolution authorizing the purchase of the land stated it would be used for “the preservation of agricultural open space and recreation,” its proposal meets the town’s criteria. However, the town documents issued to prospective lessees invited proposals for use of the property “exclusively for agricultural purposes.”

Ms. Bistrian was appointed last Thursday, by a unanimous vote of the town board, as the manager of the property on a volunteer basis, until a lessee is chosen. She had performed that role for Putnam Bridge, the Connecticut developer that formerly owned the land.

 

Aronia berries growing on a Midwestern farm. A similar operation has been proposed for town-owned Amagansett farmland.Henry C. Blazer

2014 Iowa State Fair

Learn about the Midwest’s New Super Berry!

Midwest Aronia Association will be hosting a booth at the Iowa State Fair from Thursday, August 7 through Sunday, August 17.The Iowa State Fair, held annually in Des Moines, Iowa will be held this year from Thursday, August 7 through Sunday, August 17. The Midwest Aronia Association (MAA) will sponsor a booth on each of these days. This booth (#M090) will be located in the Agriculture Building from (location #3549 upstairs balcony) 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Midwest Aronia Association (MAA) would like to invite the public to attend this event to learn more about Aronia.
Aronia has been introduced in recent years as a value-added sustainably grown crop, and researchers are discovering numerous health benefits in the dark purple berry. Volunteers will staff the booth to provide interested individuals with information about the Aronia berry, including an ongoing Power Point presentation, handouts and flyers with background information and recipe ideas. The Midwest Aronia Association is a non-profit group whose focus is educationconcerning Aronia. Our main goals include assisting growers, and re-establishing Aronia as a healthy staple in modern diets by introducing Aronia berries to consumers. Speakers will be presenting Aronia related topics throughout the event atGranddfather’s Barn. They include: Andrew Pitz of Sawmill Hollow, IA (August 8 at 4;00 p.m.), Kent Friedrichsen, IA Grower (August 9 at 4:00 p.m.), and Tammy Melcher, HH Wild Plums, NE (August 13, 1:00 p.m.). For more information about this event, please visit www.midwestaronia.org.

Midwest Aronia Association
www.midwestAronia.org
Roberta Barham
Midwest Aronia Association Public Relations Board Member
email: BarhamGardens@tds.net
phone: (608) 438-7254

Aronia Berry Gaining Market Foothold in US

Aronia Berry Gaining Market Foothold in US
MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa — Jul 12, 2014, 2:27 PM ET
By MARGERY A. BECK Associated Press

Click here for full story

A new fruit that research says packs more antioxidants than popular “superfoods” like blueberries, acai berries and goji berries is establishing itself in the aisles of mainstream grocery stores, showing up in everything from juices to powdered supplements to baby food.

Its rise from being a novelty item at farmers markets into a multimillion-dollar U.S. industry even includes a name change, from the common chokeberry — so named centuries ago by European settlers who found the tart, astringent berry more pretty than palatable — to the aronia berry, derived from its genus, Aronia melanocarpa.

The native North American berry was introduced in Russia and eastern Europe in the early 20th century and has been cultivated there for juices and wines. Now, farmers throughout the upper Midwest are planting the shrubs by the thousands every year. But the industry’s roots in the U.S. can be traced to Sawmill Hollow Family Farm in the Loess Hills of western Iowa, where most in the industry believe the first bushes were planted for commercial cultivation in the U.S.

Andrew Pittz, 28, is the driving force behind the aronia berry’s emergence. His family was looking for a crop they could cultivate on the hilly, silt-heavy soil near the Missouri River, and in 1997, Pittz’s parents planted some 200 bushes. The bush grows well in the Midwest, has few pests and doesn’t have to be replanted every year.

The Pittz family was successful: Sawmill Hollow products now are sold in about half of Hy-Vee’s 237 stores, and in all of Whole Foods’ 45 Midwest-region stores, according to spokeswomen for the chains. Rather than keep the berry and its economic potential under wraps, Pittz and his family have been spreading word far and wide — especially throughout Iowa.

The farm holds an annual field day that draws thousands in September, and Pittz planted bushes in all 99 Iowa counties last year. Even Iowa State University is helping promote the berry as a value-added crop and a good way to diversify farm income, offering grants to help people get started.

“We want the aronia berry to be to Iowa’s Heartland what the peach is to Georgia.” Pittz said.

His family also has taught others how to plant, grow and market the almost black-purple, pea-sized berries. They even share best practices for pruning the bushes for maximum yield, which they developed over nearly 18 years of trial and error. A mature bush at four to five years can produce up to 20 pounds.

Consumers are taking notice of the potential health benefits, said Stacey Loftus, Hy-Vee’s health and wellness supervisor. Research published last year in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry says aronia’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity — a standard measurement of antioxidant strength — shows the berry has one of the highest values ever recorded for a fruit.

“I don’t think this is a passing fad,” she said.

Antioxidants help protect cells from damage, although there are questions in the medical field as to what role antioxidants play in helping prevent human disease. Federal regulators have, in recent years, targeted companies that have made unsubstantiated health claims about antioxidant-containing products. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission upheld a judge’s decision that POM Wonderful made deceptive claims that its pomegranate products could treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and other illnesses. The FTC’s action is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

2 Your Health New superfruit is super hard to find

2 Your Health New superfruit is super hard to find
Posted: Jul 07, 2014 3:40 PM CDT
Updated: Jul 14, 2014 3:40 PM CDT
By Carolyn Murray – email

There’s a new superfruit in town, but you’ve probably never heard of it. Experts the aronia berry has huge potential.
Interest in healthy eating has led to a worldwide growth in the popularity of aronia berries and aronia products.
Also known as the black chokecherry, the berry is said to have more antioxidants than any other fruit.
The aronia berry isn’t easily found in the grocery store.
Kathy Wiederholt, explains that the superfruit grows easily on the plains of North Dakota.

“They’re really gaining a lot of interest across the U.S., because they have some of the highest neutraceutical values of any plants out there. they’re way higher than blueberries and they’re higher than elderberries even.”

Wiederholt says aronia berries have more antioxidants than any other fruit, including the acai berry.
it’s not a fruit you’d want to eat on its own.

People describe it as having an earthy or astringent flavor. But some people are using it to make wine.
Vintner’s winery in Bismarck has two aronia varieties.
Owner Allan Fuller says both wines pair well with steak.

“They’re both dark red wines. so, it’s going to be a personal choice. if you like a little bit sweeter wine and a steak, if you like those two, that’s probably going to be a home run for you. maybe not for your neighbor. your neighbor might like a drier wine. that’s the reason why we have two.”

The Carrington research center has six varieties of aronia berries.
and Wiederholt says they’re easy to take care of.

“Plant them nicely, not too deep, not too shallow, kind of like how they are in the pot. and really, just water them the first few weeks, maybe the first year and make sure they don’t get too dry. and after that, they should take off on their own.”

The plant will begin yielding fruit in the second or third year.
and each bush will produce about 15-20 pounds of fruit once it reaches maturity.

Wiederholt says the fruit pairs well with dairy products and can be great in a smoothie or with ice cream.