From Farm to Table: Cranberries

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“From Farm to Table” is a series of posts showcasing the small-scale farming culture of New England. Despite what people assume, there’s a lot of it going on around here. Midwesterners can barely conceptualize a farm that doesn’t stretch on and on, with stubby, leafy rows of soy beans blending into tall rows of yellow-topped cornstalks, and long, flat rows of pig barns, white-painted farmhouses and an occasional mammoth grain silo as the only man-made structures you might see for miles. Farming is very different around here, but just as culturally vital.

Last month, Peter and I visited a cranberry bog in Chatham, on Cape Cod. As any casual reader of this blog knows, Peter and I are frequent visitors to Cape Cod — even more so now that we live in Massachusetts. The Cape is great in so many ways, but especially for the deep sense of rural tranquility it can quickly impart (in the off-season) to someone who lives a mere hour away in the suburbs of Boston. And if you’re not from Massachusetts, you can be forgiven for not realizing that — like in most rural areas — there are lots of farms on Cape Cod: cranberry farms.

Growing up in Indiana you really only associate commercial farming with corn and soybeans. Most people, in general, I think, associate commercial farming with these sorts of mega crops. And for good reason. During our tour, our tour guide (also the bog’s owner) told us it’s mostly these large farms that lobby for and benefit from government policies, including subsidies, buybacks, etc. Cape cranberries don’t receive a lot of government support, even though the industry has been struggling.

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