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Michelle Obama’s Next Target: Cranberries!

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Cranberry 1What the First Lady Michelle Obama has in her mind may sound the death-knell of cranberry juice cocktail in schools. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative is set to target the school vending machines in its next step and since the cranberry cocktail is full of sugar, it is likely to go off the list. You must already be mourning the loss but wait till you hear the whole story.



Cranberry Cocktail


Although, the cranberry juice cocktail sold from the school vending machines and in school cafeterias is made with cranberry fruit, it also contains a lot of sugar. Sugar is added because cranberries, by themselves are very bitter and tart. However, the excess use of sweeteners nullifies the nutritional benefits of the fruit, that is why the First Lady is up in arms against this one. The cranberry growers are looking at this turn of events with some skepticism, as is obvious. One of the growers, from Wisconsin, Linda Prehn, said, “Cranberries can be sweetened with anything. But you can’t eat them raw. They’re tough to eat straight up.” Prehn asks there must be “some sort of healthy cranberry juice alternative.” Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, said, “If we’re put into a category that says these types of products are unhealthy, we think it would be inaccurate and unfair. Lumping us in the other beverages that don’t have the health benefits associated with them that cranberries do is definitely going to affect our ability to sell cranberry products.”



The Argument



Cranberries are not bad in itself. In fact, they contain antioxidants, often more than other such fruits and if consumed regularly, they can help you prevent urinary tract infections. In short, cranberries keep your kidneys and bladder healthy. Therefore, the cranberry industry is out to appease Michelle Obama and the Department of Agriculture, which will bring out the fresh guidelines against the school vending machines. The Massachussets’ lawmakers, representing the “Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association”, have also urged the government to consider the health benefits of cranberries while giving shape to the new guidelines. The industry has appealed to both, Obama and the Department to pay heed to the benefits in comparison to a little sugar intake. In fact, some of the opposition to these new guidelines are also quick to point out that in comparison to cranberry cocktails, there are other drinks with far worse sugar content. They are asking why the government is targeting just cranberry juice?



The Concern Cranberry 2


However, nutrition experts are not buying into the argument presented by the cranberry industry. Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is concerned about the sugar content in the cranberry juice cocktails. Other experts argue that the cranberry industry is raking up the urinary tract infections unnecessarily while the nation is facing a booming epidemic in obesity, which makes it imperative to act against any drink that has a high level of sugar and cranberry juice cocktail is one such drink. While the industry is arguing that the parents could still purchase cranberry juice for their kids from outside, the federal government wants to make sure that the schools are sending the right message across with their policies.


If you thought, it is only cranberry juice, think again. The new guidelines will crackdown on all such juices, which are not 100 percent fruit juice. In case of most of the berry drinks, the manufacturers end up using sugar, corn syrup, or other juices, to control the tartness of the real fruit. Therefore, it is not just the cranberries that have to worry about the new guidelines. Although, to start with, it seems, Michelle Obama has made some new enemies in the cranberry industry.


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Michelle Obama’s Next Target: Cranberries!