Canadian exporters learned a couple of harsh lessons this spring when British authorities ordered saskatoon berry products off their store shelves. One was the capriciousness of U.K. food standards: officials who questioned the safety of the juicy purple morsels were apparently unaware that the royal family had happily dined on them during Canadian visits.
The other was how little our native produce is known overseas, even as Canadians rediscover the wild fruit and berries of their own land. At the Berry Barn outside Saskatoon, co-owner Grant Erlandson
reports steady growth in saskatoon berry sales, from 9,900 kg in 1997 to some 20,000 kg last year. His customers are largely from Western Canada, and many grew up eating the berries as a staple. “I think it brings back memories for them,” he says.
The rebirth goes beyond saskatoon berries. Native blackberries get snapped up each summer across Ontario, while Maritimers make annual pilgrimages to blueberry picking grounds. Foodies are also discovering more obscure berries. Newfoundland cloudberries, for example-known locally as “bakeapples”-have large orange sacs and an apple-like taste. They make excellent jellies and pies, or fine mediums for sauces, but are not yet harvested commercially. C.G.
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