Aronia Berries: What Do They Do for You?

Are You Eating the Powerful Superfruit?

September 15, 2019: Make Plans to Attend the Aronia Berry Festival. Read below for more details.

What is an Aronia Berry?

The simple answer is an aronia berry is a tart, dark purple superfruit loaded with antioxidants. It’s often called a black chokeberry in garden centers and confused with pitted chokecherries. It looks like a blend between a blueberry and a cherry.

Native to North America, these berries thrive in the Midwest.

Sawmill Hollow Family Farm near Missouri Valley, Iowa was the first aronia berry farm in North America.

The berries taste tart and rarely are eaten on their own. You can find the berries fresh, dried, frozen,  pureed or in supplements.

Look for aronia juice and concentrate in your local supermarket, usually in the health food section.

The berries are often added to blended drinks or water and used as ingredients in many foods including, salsa, stir-fry, vinaigrettes, baked goods, jams and more. Try topping off your salad, cereal and/or yogurt with some berries. [See recipe below.]

In some regions, you can also buy aronia berry wine and beer.

However you use them, know you are adding a health benefit to your diet. (Be sure to follow the recommended dose per day instructions.)

Health Benefits

Ongoing medical research studies in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria’s Medical University of Varna) and more recently in the USA claim the aronia berry is the most powerful superfood on earth.

 Berries Are Believed To

    • Improve blood circulation
    • Balance blood pressure
    • Protect liver and gastric functions
    • Assist in decreasing inflammation in the body
    • Fight against urinary tract infections
  • Be rich in fiber

Berries Have

  • 3Xs the antioxidants of acai berries
  • 3xs the anthocyanins of tart berries
  • 4xs the resveratrol of red wine, and
  • 24xs the proanthocyanins of elderberries

Meet Berry Farmer-Chase Nelson

Chase Nelson is part of Nelson Farms located in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota. Chase’s family added aronia bushes to their farm in 2015 when his dad recognized the health benefits of drinking aronia berry juice after a mini stroke and a COPD diagnosis.

Today Nelson Farms has 18,000 aronia berry bushes (20 dedicated acres) in addition to their 6000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. They also care for and harvest an additional 28 acres of aronia berries for two neighboring farms.

Chase admits the most challenging aspect of growing aronia berries is the unknown. “Everything we’ve done has been trial and error. There isn’t much information available for best methods for bush spacing, weed control, etc. Right now, we weed everything by hand and we planted grass down each row to aid in weed control.”

Marketing is also challenging as Americans are just now becoming familiar with the aronia berries and their many health benefits.

Nelson Farms is a grower for the National Aronia Growers, LLC also known as NAG. All of their harvested berries go there to get destemmed and sterilized. Once NAG finds an outlet to sell the berries, Nelson Farms gets paid by NAG.
Click here to see a video of the 2017 harvest at Nelson’s Farm.

New Market Opportunities

Chase, a 2015 Concordia College (MN) graduate,  is working on potential wholesale markets like breweries and cideries. “Those that have already purchased the berries have created some delicious beverages.”

“Aronia is great for everyone, but I think because it’s so high in antioxidants it makes it great for a post workout supplement,” reflected Chase.

Those who’d get maximum benefit include

  • Runners
  • Physically active people
  • Elderly
  • Those with inflammation issues
  • Those with allergies

Nelson Farms also partners with Ax Water which uses their berries for their aronia infused water.

AX Water 

Nelson Farms sells berries to Ax Water Company-an aronia infused water company founded in Fargo, ND in 2017.

Ax Water is an all-natural, American made, health and wellness beverage. Made from all-natural ingredients, and containing only 30 calories, ax water packs all the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of the aronia berry into 16 ounces.

Educating Consumers 

Educating consumers about aronia berries is an ongoing effort. Chase sees it as helping the community take charge of their health.

Sawmill Hollow Family Farm near Missouri Valley, Iowa hosts an annual North American Aronia Berry Festival and Nelson Aronia Farm near Fargo, North Dakota will be hosting a similar event in the summer of 2019.

“We enjoy having interested people on the farm to learn more about the berry. What a better way to educate them and show them the berries, first-hand.”

Feel free to contact Nelson Aronia Farm for more details about the Inaugural Aronia Berry Festival events and/or more information on aronia berry bushes. September 15, 2019 is the date! Make plans to attend. 

Courtney’s Aronia Berry Muffin Recipe 

Chase & wife, Courtney, an elementary education teacher.

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 cups flour
  •  2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (omit if butter is salted)
  • ,1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  •  1/2 cup milk
  • 1 handful of Aronia berries
  • 2-3 tsp granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the muffins

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. In a bowl, place flour and baking powder. Mix together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter & sugar until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla. With a spoon, stir in half of the flour, then half of the milk. Repeat, stirring with each addition until just bended. Do not over mix! Gently fold in the  berries.  Using a cookie scoop, place 2 scoops of batter into each muffin liner and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake for 25 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick. Store in an air tight container or wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the freezer.

More Information

  1. National Aronia Growers. Telephone # is 712-540-0127
  2. Midwest Aronia Association https://midwestaronia.org/ in Council Bluffs, Iowa
  3. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in your state and county https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_arme6.pdf

SHARE this post with health-minded friends and family. ENTER to win the case of Ax Water. MAKE Courtney’s delicious Aronia Berry Muffin recipe. LET me know how you liked them.

©Copyright. October 2018. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images on this site. All are copyright protected and available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
She specializes in undercover studies of communities wishing to attract visitors for economic impact. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.
Contact her by completing the form above.

Dr. Hoiberg-50 Years- 3 Sons-Much Success

isuEric O. Hoiberg was the second person I met in Ames, Iowa after parking my loaded, four-door, silver Plymouth Fury. The residence hall director was the first. Eric was my student advisor. I was a seemingly lost transfer student alone in a new town on a campus with a student body nearing the population of my home state of North Dakota.

To this day I recall the feeling of optimism and assurance I had leaving his office that August afternoon. I sensed I’d graduate as a Cyclone. I believed I’d succeed in the so-called real world post-graduation. He left me with the impression he believed in me, so I did in myself.

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University (ISU) under his guidance.

Eric

Dr. Eric O. Hoiberg-an inspirational figure.

Die-Hard Cyclone

Hoiberg is a dedicated, loyal Iowa State University Cyclone, except for the fact that he earned 3 degrees (BA, MA, and Ph.D) at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln (UNL).  He spent 21 years as a Sociology faculty member and advisor for and coordinator of the Public Service and Administration (PSA) program. Before retiring, he was promoted to, and spent 11 years as, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Agriculture. Hoiberg returned to ISU twice after retirement. Once to create an alumni program. Next as the Interim Associate Provost while a search was being conducted.

European Influence

Eric’s upbringing greatly influenced him. Born in Fayette, Missouri, he and his three older brothers and homemaker mother, accompanied his father to Germany directly after World War II during the Berlin Airlift. There his father, a rural sociologist, worked with the Reconstruction effort helping churches cope with the Holocaust and other ravages of war. The family returned to Europe several years later when his father directed a group establishing Turkey’s first Land Grant University. The family traveled extensively throughout the Muslim country, expanding Hoiberg’s view of the world. However, he also developed a deep appreciation for the lifestyle and subculture of farmers and small towns where many of his extended family members resided. This combination of academic readiness and world-wide vision made him an ideal university employee.

Researcher

His doctoral research at UNL was published in the esteemed American Sociological Review and centered on creating a new methodology for assessing neighborhood and community structure and change. A comprehensive survey of 700 Iowa farm families, which provided a baseline for the state of agriculture in Iowa in the 1970’s, was his first research venture at ISU. Eric also conducted research on farmers’ adoptions of new technologies and techniques, particularly environmental practices. And, he was part of a national research team that studied a series of six rural communities across the country, originally studied by the USDA in 1940. His team examined change over the roughly 50-year period.

Despite this nationally recognized research, Eric cites the growth of the PSA program as his most valued career accomplishment. “I took over the program in its infancy and grew it into a strong program attracting excellent students who went on to do some good in society.”

One of those students, Renny Olhava Crawford shared “I remember sitting in his class my sophomore year. By this time, I’d already changed my major 4 times. As I was listening to the lecture, all I could think was – I love this!  I need to talk to him and learn how I can get more into this. So, I found a reason to go arrange a meeting, some question on an assignment, I believe.  After “clearing” up my question, I just told him, “I really love everything we are going over in this class-how do I study more about this?” I think his response was “Well maybe you need to look into PSA”.  He told me more. That afternoon I changed my major-and probably my life.”

Fellow PSA graduate John Bahr added, “Eric is one of the three key male figures who influenced my life. His guidance and insight helped me graduate from Iowa State. As a result, I learned discipline and gained academic confidence, which helped me to achieve personal and professional success.”

These Kids Now Days

Eric’s attitude and approach while working with students earned him numerous advising and teaching awards. He felt responsible to place curriculum in context so students gain an appreciation for the why and wherefore of courses they’re required to take. “There must be a link between the curriculum and the world of work they’ll be entering.”

He enjoyed students stopping by after a lecture to discuss how ideas/examples in class applied in their own lives. “This kind of discussion invariably increased my own understanding of the topic and reinforced that education is truly a two-way street.” And, he was frustrated when students focused solely on grades and test scores rather than understanding and communicating subject matter and applying it to their lives. “Evaluation is an important part of the educational process, but it shouldn’t be the only one.”

Over time he saw 3 key indicators that predicted student success: One, leadership experience in high school. “If a student came to PSA with extensive FFA experience, I could almost guarantee they’d be successful upon graduation.” Two, strong communication skills, and Three, a love for learning, indicated by a high level of intellectual curiosity and exploration. Today’s students also need a sound grasp of technical skills.

Hoiberg FamilyHoiberg Family

In addition to guiding and advising countless ISU students, Eric and his wife, Karen, who just celebrated 50 years of marriage, raised three boys: Steve, Fred and Andrew. Today, they also enjoy the company of 8 grandchildren. “My greatest sense of pride comes from my children and grandchildren. I revel in their accomplishments, both big and small. They’re each unique in their own way but also integral parts of our family unit.” Fred, the wildly popular former ISU basketball player and coach, has struggled publicly with heart conditions. “His concerns have strengthened our family. We all recognize life is fragile and we should be thankful for the gifts we have.”

Eric and KarenOne of those gifts is time together in Northern Minnesota-Eric’s favorite getaway. Now fully retired, he and Karen enjoy the spontaneity of life while he’s tirelessly working on becoming a scratch golfer. “It doesn’t seem to be happening.”

Compassionate, Curious, Understanding-that’s my college Advisor-Eric O. Hoiberg.

Proud to know him and deeply grateful for his influence on my life.

Share with ISU Cyclones and others who know Professor Hoiberg.

Feel free to leave your comments for Eric below.

At an event honoring Dr. Eric O. Hoiberg during the Bacon Fest on the campus of Iowa State University on October 7, 2017. Still an inspiration and mentor to many, including me.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. August 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Faith, Family & Farming: McCook, Nebraska

Pillars of Southwest Nebraska Community

townI spent 22 hours covering every square inch, and then some, of McCook-a city of nearly 8000 and the county seat of Red Willow County, Nebraska. My goal on any undercover visit is to discover the heartbeat of the community-what makes it thrive, what does it value and how is it different from anywhere else.

I left McCook with a clear understanding that Faith, Family and Farming are the pillars in this Go-To city in Southwest Nebraska.

Origin

Established in 1882 as a railroad center halfway between Denver and Omaha, McCook remains a regional trade hub for Northwest Kansas and Southwest Nebraska. Residents in this rural area flock to McCook for shopping, dining, education, entertainment, medical services and more.

Red Willow County was named for the Red Willow Creek, which is a tributary of the Republican River. The name is reported to be mistranslated from the Dakota Indian name Chanshasha Wakpala, which literally means Red Dogwood Creek. The Dakota referred to the creek as such because of an abundance of red dogwood shrub that grew along the creek banks. Its stem and branches are deep red in color and favored in basket making.

History & Trendy

The city has seamlessly blended history and modernization. In fact, the two often co-exist, as seen at The Loop Brewing Company, a former railroad beericehouse that in 2011 became a brewery and restaurant with an active railway within a few feet of its front door. The Loop was at near capacity when I arrived to enjoy a beer flight and brick oven pizza shortly after 8 pm on an unseasonably 38 degree rainy night.

Norris Avenue (The Bricks) is perhaps the best example of this perfect blend of history and hip. The historical walking tour includes, in addition to other sites, the Fox Theatre and Museum of High Plains & Carnegie Library  as well as the Norris House-a museum for its namesake, the late Senator George W norrisNorris. Go a bit south to find the trendy women’s clothing store Mint 217 and the fabulous Knowlen and Yates cooking and kitchenware store. While touring, you’ll also find the H.P. Sutton Home-the only house in Nebraska designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which today is a private residence. Venture off “The Bricks” on East B Street and discover The Painted Ladies. This home décor and painted furniture store owned by three friends is right on trend and proves that no matter how far you live from a metropolitan area, you can keep up with the trends and be just as “cool” as anyone else. West B Street finds you at Farrells Pharmacy and Hallmark Store where the best prescription here is customer service.

Gold Star Service

In fact, every business I entered deserves a gold star for customer service. flipSure, in a community this size where folks likely know one another, I’m certain I stood out. Instead of making me feel like an outsider, every encounter was quite the opposite. “Welcome. Is there something I can help you find?” Good old-fashioned customer service still exists, at least in McCook. Equally impressive was, “Thank you for stopping in and for visiting McCook.”

Well done business owners! Your employees are impressively well-trained.

Family

pianoNo matter where I dined during my visit, I was always a party of two surrounded by large family groups. Lunching at Sehnert’s Bakery & Bieroc Cafe was an extraordinary experience. Yes, the Jiffy Burger, especially the freshly baked bun, was exceptional as were the pastries, and I mean plural, but the sense of community in the establishment is something of day’s long gone. The ownership here has taken great care in creating a gathering place that oozes community.

After ordering, coffee-sipping customers caught up with one another in front of the pastry display cases while waiting for their lunch. As one moves to the dining area, a framed poster on “How to Build Community” greets all diners. tallThe message of the poster was perfectly put into action in the Café. Greetings were exchanged between and across tables and remarkably diners of all ages sat at the Café’s piano filling the room with background sounds deserving of a much larger audience, though greatly appreciated by their current one, which applauded after each performance.

Throughout my 22 hours as a first-time visitor, everything I saw and experienced in McCook was new, but my time in this Café left the strongest impression on me. It’s something I wish for every community. One person and one business can make a difference in building community.

Faith

Churches (20) of nearly every faith are represented in McCook. I visited St. glassPatrick’s Catholic Church. The doors were open-a rare find today in a town of any size. As with most communities, the churches in McCook appear to foster social capital and provide needed services as well as a moral compass for the city.

 

Farming

mooMy visit included a drive by schools, city hall, a senior center and nursing home, the community college, hospital, airport, golf course, and parks. I visited the library and the Burlington Northern and Amtrak station as well as two surrounding state recreation areas: Red Willow Reservoir and Medicine Creek. No matter where I went, I observed and understood the role agriculture plays in this area’s economy.

grainApproaching McCook on Highways 6 & 34 East, one’s senses are awakened by the aromas of feed lots and rich wet soil ; sights of windmills, irrigation systems and massively-sized, sophisticated-looking grain bins, and the sounds of bellowing cows and rumbling trains. Farming is vital and omnipresent in this region.

4hThe Red Willow County Fairgrounds, which house the Kiplinger Arena, spoke to the heart of McCook. Here young citizens learn both the values and lessons of farming and citizenship from adults who hold dear the same lessons shared by their predecessors.

Go-To McCook

golfMcCook is the Go-To City of Southwest Nebraska built on a foundation of faith, family and farming. Go to McCook. Awaken your senses, engage in conversation with the locals, shop their trendy stores, walk the Heritage Square, play in their well-kept parks and dine in one of many great eateries.

Experience a textbook example of community.

You will leave McCook a more enlightened person than when you came.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. May 2016. Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved.

This undercover study was done in cooperation with McCook/Red Willow County Tourism.

 

Nominate your community for an undercover study by contacting me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Shooting In Rural America

First Year Teacher Shares Incident Experience

Sarah is a first year teacher and daughter of a veteran police officer. She knew of crime but never realized she’d be so close to a shooting until a student opened fire inside her school during her 1st month on the job. This is Sarah’s account of September 30, 2015 in rural Harrisburg, South Dakota, population 5000.

I’ll never forget this day. I was supervising a study hall of diligent students when just after 10:00 AM; the intercom came on with static and white noise. Quickly following was the administrative assistant’s voice saying, “We are in lockdown. We are in lockdown.” She did not yell, but panic was heard in her voice. In fact, still today, over and over in my head, I hear how she said those words. Instantly I knew this was not a drill. Instead, a real incident was happening somewhere in the school.

Immediately I instructed my classroom of 25 students to get as close to the back wall as possible so they were not in direct site from the door. As they moved, I ran to shut and lock the door, turn the lights off and close all the shades. The next few minutes of uncertainty felt like an eternity. Students rightfully asked if this was a drill and what was going on. I had no answers. Finally our principal, who I later learned had just been shot, came on the intercom announcing the person causing the lockdown was apprehended and authorities were enroute.

All breathed a sigh of relief knowing with near certainty we were no longer in danger. Then I realized my loved ones, who’d in all likelihood heard about
the shooting, were probably trying to find out if I was okay, only I didn’t
have my cellular phone. For once, I was thankful for social media because I took to Facebook to contact my friends and family, letting them know that my students and I were safe.

I was on the job a month when this incident happened. I never imagined having to follow active shooter procedures ever while teaching, let alone in the first month of my career. The staff had practiced a lockdown drill just two weeks prior to the shooting so I knew what to do in the classroom that day and automatically did as we were taught.

September 30th I became a more confident teacher. Confidence in the classroom and relationship building with students typically come with time and success. Ironically, this experience jump-started both. I know, if faced with a similar incident, I will be confident in my actions. That morning those 25 students and I bonded and I feel closer to them now then I think most teachers in their first month of their first year could wish for.

I will admit that on the day of the shooting I really didn’t have any feelings about it. But the next day, when seeing the students and our principal, who thankfully was only slightly injured, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what happened and the realization of how it could have been much worse for all.

October 1, 2015 when I got home from school, I learned of the Oregon college campus shooting and what happened the day before at our school really hit me hard. I thought to myself how easily that could have been my school, and my students. Yes, all of us at Harrisburg High School went through a traumatic event but it could have been a tragic event as well.

I was thankful then that I am close to my family. Some of my co-worker’s families live in other states and could only communicate through telephone or text messaging. I was lucky enough to have my family in the same city, offering me support and talking me through this incident.

I believe one of the biggest factors in this situation was that the student doing the shooting was new to the school. No one really had a chance to know him. And it is hard to say why he chose to use this act of violence with the limited background information we had on him.

What I can say is that parents should always be mindful of what their teenagers are doing and who they are hanging out with. As a sister to a brother seven years younger, I know keeping tabs on teenagers can be challenging because they don’t always want to talk to their parents. As a teacher I try to develop relationships right away with my students so they feel comfortable opening up to me about their struggles in and outside of school.

I don’t know if I am really the right person to dispense warning signs indicating a child might be considering an act of violence. I will say parents should try their best to be involved in their children’s lives and to pay attention to how they normally act. If abrupt change is noticed, it would be best for all to sit down right away and talk about it. As a teacher, and also someone who not too long ago was a teenager, I do know students absolutely want their parents to be involved and to talk to them, even though they may appear resistant and non-receptive.

Today I feel safe at Harrisburg High School. How I enter the school and go about my day has not changed. Honestly, being in lockdown was the last thing I ever expected when I decided to be a teacher. Yet, September 30, 2015 changed so many things for me. Teaching is as much about my learning as it is educating my students. That day I both taught and learned and I’m more confident for the experience.
What message would you like to convey to Sarah and all teachers? Leave a comment below.

©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

If you’d like to contribute as a guest, contact me at llthomason60@gmail.com.

Are You Listening?

Waking Early To the Amazing Sights & Sounds of Nature 

Awakened by a symphony of birds in the backyard.
Even the wind chimes remained motionless not to disturb the bird songs.
Wind chimes remained motionless so as not to disturb the music.
The setting was brilliant in the early morning sunrise.
Brilliant setting in morning sunrise.
The fountain provided background music.
The fountain provided background sounds.
Apparently I wasn't the only one listening.
All welcome to listen.
Even inanimate objects seemed magical.
Even inanimate objects seemed magical.
All were drawn to the sounds.
The diverse audience amused me.
Soloist.
Soloist in the spotlight.
Robin duet was extra special.
Eager to join the group.

 

I was just going to open the screen door and allow some fresh, crisp, early morning, fall air into the house as I  pushed through my morning routine. Instead, I was drawn to a symphony performed by a mix of birds and an equally diverse audience. I grabbed my camera to capture the event, now wishing I’d have turned on the recorder and captured the sounds. It was a great lesson in pausing to listen. Had I not been so drawn to the variety of bird sounds, I’d have missed the event and all the surrounding activity and beauty.

What else is missed when not pausing to listen?

Pause. Look. Listen.

Life passes by too quickly not to appreciate magical moments.

Looking for more images like these, check out “Linda’s Store”. Any of these photographs can be placed on products to use yourself or gift to others. As a small business owner, I appreciate your support.

 Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.