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What a Berry!

By Mark Mulcahy

You pick up some organic raspberries at the store. You look for fresh-looking, plump berries and use them within two days. You know to store them dry, then rinse thoroughly before using. And you most likely know that these darn versatile Melissa’s organic raspberries are the perfect summer treat. They are so delicate, rosy, and delicious that even if they weren’t nutritious, we’d eat them anyway.

But they are! Beneath their gentle appearance lies a powerful food ready to help your body fend off an overabundance of infections and disease, and keep you running in tip-top shape throughout the summer. The health benefits of raspberries have been known for centuries, but modern medical research clearly shows us how much these berries can do for us.

Back in the day - in this case, the first century - records show that raspberry leaves, fruit, and stems were used as a throat gargle; to treat morning sickness; and for digestive problems. We now know that raspberry leaf in particular strengthens the uterus and helps balance hormones, and that the berries are known to protect the throat, tongue, stomach, and colon from cancer.

Raspberries are a good source of commonly known nutrients (vitamin C and manganese), two critical antioxidant nutrients, riboflavin, and other B vitamins. One cup of raspberries will provide less than 1 gram of fat, 40 percent of your fiber needs, 40 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, and 35 percent of your daily manganese needs. They also have a generous serving of the lesser-known phytonutrients (plant based), now emerging as protectors with three main values: antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogen. Some of the compounds found in raspberries are phenolic compounds, flavones, and anthocyanins. Antioxidants work by stopping free radical damage. Free radicals are overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules that can destroy healthy molecules and cause cell damage. Whew! Now that's one amazing berry, right?

Does it seem like you can find raspberries year-round? Well, you can - because with up to 200 species of raspberries - red, black, purple, and yellow - there are many new varieties that can be grown in a wider range of climates and altitudes. Raspberry production now ranges from the Arctic circle to the tropics, on every continent except Antarctica.

As picky as you may be in choosing your raspberries - as no one likes a moldy berry - organic growers are, too! The most serious disease of raspberries is gray mold, which is caused when it rains, and fruits are at their ripest during harvest time. While conventional growers can use fungicides to combat this problem, there are no organic fungicides available for organic growers. They have to be more proactive - choosing a location with good soil and arranging crop rows to take advantage of sunlight and breezes. Other crop management techniques used to suppress gray mold include trellising, alternate row production, removal of spent canes, thinning, weed control, cover crop mowing, and maintaining fruit with a tight picking schedule to reduce the presence of overripe fruit.

A lot goes into that little package of berries so that you can get the most out of them this summer.

If you want to try a quick little treat, try this Whipped Raspberry Recipe!

You’ll need:

2 1/2 cups Raspberries
1 cup full-fat plain organic yogurt
2 tablespoons local honey
2 egg whites

Put Melissa’s organic raspberries into the blender with the yogurt and honey and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and, using a metal spatula, fold them into the raspberry mixture. Pour the raspberry whip into serving glasses and chill overnight. Top with fresh raspberries and a spearmint leaf.
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