I'm not one to back down from a challenge, even when I probably should; but when Whole Foods Rocky Mountain Region challenged us with developing a new seasonal cranberry flavor for the Thanksgiving/Holiday season, I said yes. But only if, given the climate of the 2020 summer of American unraveling of racial and social injustices, I could do something special with this flavor, and give back a portion of the sales to a worthy organization working to better our society. To the credit of WF, they said yes, and trusted me to develop something completely new.
Through beautiful and delicious food I hope to raise awareness, evoke dialogue and force critical thinking about the history of the United States, about who we are and where we came from, and how we move forward, Unified.
The combination of ingredients was to be not only delicious together, but 100% sourced in North America, organic, and important to the story telling. The final result though is an incredible take on Cranberry Sauce. I believe this is the best tasting cranberry sauce you will ever have. Sweet, tart, savory with just the right consistency. And just in time for Thanksgiving.
I set out to find a small organic grower of cranberries not knowing that there are almost none left in the United States. Ocean Spray, with their corn syrup laden products, has crushed the small farmer industry and now grows their berries worldwide to meet the demand of cranberry juices. (at least they give trucks to skateboard riding, Fleetwood Mac lip syncing TikTok'ers though right?)
I found one, Fresh Meadows Farm, a 3rd generation owned cranberry farm in Carver, Massachusetts. The owner Domino Fernandez kindly fielded my internet request for cranberries to be shipped to Colorado as soon as his harvests began. At that moment I hadn't yet realized that Fresh Meadows originated in 1945 by his grandfather, an immigrant and farmer John Alves from Cape Verde. Mr. Alves came specifically to Massachusetts to farm cranberries after experiencing hardship due to droughts in his homeland island off the Western coast of Africa. Cranberry growing at that time was the gold rush of the North Eastern U.S.
The cranberry craze came and went, but John Alves' descendants have forged on to cultivate one of the very small number of organic cranberry farms left in North America and they are continuing the tradition to this day, including generations four and five, Dom's children and grandchildren. I unknowingly stumbled into an actual case where immigrants came to this country in search of new beginnings, and built a future for themselves and generations to come.
NEXT. MAPLE SYRUP.
My intention with this flavor from the beginning was to remind us all that the land we live on, as immigrants and descendants of immigrants and indigenous peoples and a mixture of both, was originally inhabited by peoples long before Columbus steered his ship to these shores. The indigenous tribes who lived across North America prospered for millennia until colonization encroached on their lands, their hunting fields, their fishing bays. They gathered, they planted and harvested (yes even those cranberries referenced above), they developed medicines from plants and they tapped maple trees for the sweet sap they boiled into syrup.
The incredibly deep, rich, and magnificently delicious organic maple syrup we use in this flavor comes from indigenous woman-run, and tribal owned, Passamaquoddy Maple Syrup in Northern Maine. The Passamaquoddy people have lived in that area of rivers, inlets, and deep forest for 15,000 years as it is abundant with cold water ocean fish, animals for trapping, and a forest filled with foods, medicines, and sugar maples. Passamaquoddy Maple Syrup company, six years in business, is perhaps the only company in the United States that has such a deep rooted existence. With 65,000 acres of trees they are a true tree to table, nature centric company. We couldn't be more thrilled to work with them. Big thank yous to Marie Harnois who I feel so fortunate to have connected with.
We included 3 spices in this mixture. Two immigrants (imported) and one indigenous (native).
The organic thyme and basil are imported from Egypt. The cradle of civilization as they say, and the Juniper Berry is North American wild grown and brought to us from Maine, New Mexico and Colorado. We selected juniper berry not only for its perfect pairing finesse with the tart and sweet, but because it has long held medicinal, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, and spiritual value in many cultures.
THE RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS.
So. We created this beautiful and delicious combination of North American Flavors intended to bring awareness to the full history of the United States, from the colonization of Spaniards and Europeans, often in conflict with the original First Nation/Native American peoples, to the centuries long story of immigrants coming to the shores of this continent in hopes of finding a better life. We cannot undo history, but we can work towards a fairer and more equitable existence for all on this beautiful continent. Our intent of developing this product is to try and help move our nation forward in a constructive and positive manner.
With each purchase of Sweetwater Cranberry Compote we will be contributing 10% to the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center that provides national leadership in ending violence against Native women & children. Statistics on percentages of native women likely to be involved in an altercation involving abuse, going missing, or being murdered by non native persons is staggering. We fully support this organization and it's efforts to provide educational materials, direct assistance and involvement in local and national policy changes for indigenous communities.
Also note..it's currently Native American Heritage Month. Step over here to learn some things..