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Why Fracking May Ruin Your Thanksgiving

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Research Center page.

This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

My, how things have changed since the Pilgrims tasted their first cranberries in their Plymouth colony! Until 1816, cranberries were a thoroughly wild food; something gathered, not grown. But the discovery that allowed us to cultivate cranberries - adding a thick layer of sand on the soil where they grow - is now creating trouble in cranberry country. As it turns out, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, requires the same sort of sand as cranberries.

Nodji VanWychen, a third-generation cranberry grower in Warrens, WI, explains that cranberries require three elements to grow well: acidic peat soil topped with six to 10 inches of sand, and a reliable source of water. Although growers refer to their cranberry fields as "bogs" or "marshes," the fields are not flooded yearround. Growers only flood their marshes during the harvest and again during the winter.

Massachusetts used to dominate cranberry production, but Wisconsin has taken over in recent decades, now producing 60 percent of the world's cranberries. "We have been the number-one state in the nation for 18 consecutive years," VanWychen says proudly. "And it is the number-one fruit crop in the state of Wisconsin. So it's big business to the state, not only with the value of the crop but the amount of jobs that are developed  It's a real economic gain to the areas where cranberries are grown."  


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