Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting Bogged Down

Magnet # 340: Symbols of Bandon

Material: Resin

Purchased By: Me

"The Cranberry Capitol of Oregon," Bandon, wraps up its 64th Annual Cranberry Festival today. The festivities kicked off on Friday and have included the Cranberry Festival Parade, the Cranberry Bowl football game, and the Cranberry Food Fair. The event draws in visitors from all over Oregon as well as neighboring states California and Washington. It dates back all the way to 1946, when it was begun to honor the area's cranberry industry.

I'd never heard of Bandon before I bought this very nice magnet of the city as part of a magnet lot. And having never been to the state of Oregon, I've not really been anywhere near it. From what I can tell, it's a relatively small community of just under 3,000 residents on the southern part of that state's coastline. It was founded in 1873 by Irishmen from Bandon, Ireland, which is now the city's only sister city. I guess I don't tend to think that major cranberry producing areas are located in the western parts of the United States, but Bandon certainly proves me wrong. In 1885, they were first grown there by Charles McFarlin, who traveled there from Massachusetts. Originally, he had intended to strike it rich panning for gold, but when that didn't work out, he used vines imported from Cape Cod to develop the first cranberry bog in the state, which would last for over eighty years. The hybrid he introduced did a great job of adapting to conditions on the West Coast, and was named McFarlin in his honor. For many years, it was the preferred variety of cranberry in the region. Over the years, more than 100 growers have settled in Bandon, producing about 5% of the cranberries grown domestically. It's one of only four locales on the West Coast that grow the fruit. They harvest in the fall, from mid-September to around Thanksgiving. Ocean Spray buys many of the crop, processing them at their plant in nearby in Prosser, Washington. Bandon has also made important advancements in cranberry production, most notably when bogs there were the first to wet harvest, which involves building dikes around the bogs and flooding them.

Even if you can't make it out to this year's Annual Cranberry Festival, that's no excuse not to indulge in a handfull of cranberries. They contain vitamin C, manganese, antioxidants, and dietary fibers. Eating them can help prevent the formation of kidney stones, prevent and cure urinary tract infections, can lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, and even protect you from breast cancer. Thanks to all over their beneficial traits, they've been labeled superfruits. Just be careful not to have too many - given the tart taste of this fruit, many manufacturers will add lots of sugar to sweeten them up, making them pretty high in calories. But if you don't mind them unsweetened, you can really chow down and gain some important nutritional benefits from cranberries. And you don't have to eat them on their own - they can be added into all sorts of dishes, from baked goods to main dishes and salads, and even alcoholic beverages. For an assortment of cranberry recipes, check out http://www.bandoncranberryfest.com/2010/. And while you're there, you can consider heading to Bandon for next year's Annual Cranberry Festival - it certainly sounds like lots of fun!

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