Now that we’ve covered why organic cranberries are important for your health and the environment, how easy are they to find? Read on for my shopping recap, or just skip to the bottom for my Spiced Cranberry Sauce recipe.
I scoured the produce sections at three local grocery stores, Safeway, Giant and Whole Foods. I generally find that Giant has a better selection of organics than Safeway, but I was intrigued by the promise of “locally grown” berries in yesterday’s Safeway ad. My hopes were quickly dashed when bags of Ocean Spray were all I could find – bags labeled, “Product of Canada,” at that. I asked the produce manager to verify that was all they had, and he reported that they stocked organic cranberries last year but none were sent this year. To his credit, he did try to be helpful and suggest I just go to Whole Foods…
I was hoping to prove that you could find organic cranberries without having to go to an organic market, so I continued on to Giant, a local chain. I did see a few more organic items, potatoes, onions, etc. at first glance, but was about to give up when I spotted two lone boxes of organic cranberries. (Naturipe brand from Wisconsin.) Score! I do hope they are planning to restock before the holiday, though. Curiously, Giant’s bagged Ocean Spray berries were “Product of USA,” stating that they were packed in Wisconsin, Massachusetts or Washington. Not the most helpful if you’re trying to plan a 100-mile Thanksgiving, but slightly more local than Canadian berries for most of us in the states. (I guess if you’re in Minnesota you can go either way.)
On then to Whole Foods, which offered two choices, organic from a family farm in Massachusetts (Orcranic brand), and Ocean Spray branded IPM berries from New Jersey. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) attempts to use natural methods first and pesticides as a last resort, but the consumer has no way of knowing what that means in actual quantities of chemicals unless you can talk to the producer directly. It is generally preferable to conventional, at any rate.
How do the prices stack up?
- Safeway: No organic fresh cranberries.
- Giant: Naturipe brand organic cranberries, $2.99 (in-store only, not available through Peapod delivery service).
- Whole Foods: Orcranic brand organic cranberries, $4.99; Ocean Spray IPM cranberries, $3.99.
Now I was primarily focused on fresh berries, but I perused the dried and canned options at each store as well, for those who have to have the can or just like to snack on dried berries year round. Here’s the scorecard:
- Safeway: Newman’s Own Organic (from US or Canada) $2.99 (4oz.) vs. Sun-Maid “Cape Cod” conventional cranberries, $3.99 (6oz.)
No organic canned cranberry sauce.
- Giant: Nature’s Promise (store brand) organic dried cranberries, $5.99 (9 oz.). (Out of stock yesterday, but available through Peapod.)
No organic canned canned cranberry sauce. (Ocean Spray conventional, $1.00.)
- Whole Foods: Organic cans, 365 brand, $1.79.
Recipe: Organic Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is surprisingly easy to make, and can be made ahead of time and stored up to a week in the refrigerator. This simple spiced version incorporates other classic fall flavors, apple cider and maple syrup, to lend a dark (and healthier) sweetness. I used the Orcranics for this, and they were firm, tart and full of flavor.
- 1 12 ounce bag organic fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
Instructions: Place all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Berries will pop and burst. Don’t worry if it is still slightly runny, it will set up more as it cools. Remove from heat and cool; refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes the equivalent of one can, but tastes infinitely better! Enjoy!