Cranberries now have their own caucus to represent them in Washington, D.C., and educate about their benefits. Why the sudden interest in having a voice and presence in our country’s center? The Department of Agriculture is drafting new nutritional standards that could ban sugary drinks from school vending machines and menus. This includes obvious drinks like highly sweetened soda, but it could also ban cranberry juice, since it is highly sweetened as well.
This is concerning to those who farm cranberries, and manufacture cranberry juice. Sweetened cranberry juice could be banned from schools, but manufacturers are also worried about the message it sends to the community.
Hence, a 17-member caucus headed by Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown from Massachusetts (where many cranberries are grown) has been created to protect the interest of cranberries. I understand the gravity of the situation for those involved in the cranberry industry. However, I consider parents to be their own caucus representing the interests of their children. As a mother, my question is not about the politics behind what to ban or not to ban. My question is whether sweetened cranberry juice is truly healthy and something I want my daughters drinking on a regular basis.
First, the reason cranberry juice is sweetened is because it is so tart. This really is a tart, almost slightly bitter fruit. I should know, as I am one of those odd people who has drunk 100 percent cranberry juice before. The reason? A roaring urinary tract infection (UTI). I am unfortunately allergic to most antibiotics that can be safely taken while breast-feeding. With a bad UTI, my doctors gave me the choice of pumping and dumping for a week, or taking cranberry to get rid of it. (I was surprised to have conventional doctors recommend it!). I chose the natural route, and it was a difficult journey, but I eventually kicked the problem naturally. Cranberries contain compounds called proanthocyanidins that may prevent E. coli (the bacteria responsible for the majority of bladder infections) from adhering to the bladder wall. Drinking pure cranberry juice was important as many “cocktail” blends contain juices other than cranberry juice. (As a side note, I found out later with the help of a holistic doctor that certain herbs and other supplements can prevent and treat UTI’s more effectively than cranberry juice.)