Blackberry Studies Spotlight Health Aspects

Probes could lead to more sales for Oregon.

Blackberries are the No. 1 antioxidant food per serving of 1,130 grocery store products tested as part of a collaborative scientific study. A second study identifies an extract derived from fresh blackberries that reduces cancerous tumors and prevents the spread of cancer cells in animal models.

The two probes emphasizes the value of blackberries, a major Oregon farm industry.

The news has already impacted markets, with frozen berries sold in poly bags showing recent increases in sales of 12%.

The recent studies by U.S. and Norwegian scientists on blackberries are expected to give the industry a sales boost, reports the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission.

"Everyone has known for years that eating berries is good for you," says Oregon Department of Agriculture Commodity Commissions Program Manager Kris Anderson. "With the latest research on blackberries, we know even more about how much and why those berries are good for you."

The health message is being aggressively pushed by the ORBC which is using industry assessment income to promote and conduct research. Oregon grows nearly all of the nation's blackberries, valued as a $35-million-a-year business for the state.

Responding to the new health studies, Willamette Valley Fruit Company of Salem, Ore., feels the news is only good. "Aging baby boomers are more concerned about health and want to live longer," says manager Dave Dunn. "They're staring cancer and other health issues in the face, so they are changing their diets and habits. Blackberries are really good for the digestive system, aging properties and more. Plus, they taste good."

There is a sense of pride among Oregon berry producers and handlers in the health findings, he adds. "Growers are farming and producing something that has value for people's lives, not just putting something out on the table."

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