One berry is becoming popular in Northwest Iowa.
Aronia berries, also referred to as black chokeberries, are considered a superfood and are making a name for themselves in Siouxland.
"We were kind of looking for something unique," says Lonnie Ploeger, aronia berry producer.
Anyone looking for a superfruit that has high amounts of antioxidants and other health benefits, aronia berries might be the fruit for you.
"You hear all kinds of stories of people who have a bad hip or have health issues that started drinking the aronia juice or just eating the plain berries and that just really, really helps their health aspect," says aronia berry harvester and producer Michael Pippett.
The Ploeger family grows aronia berries of their own in Pierson, Iowa, and you don't have to worry about any extra substances.
The family says they take pride in having certified organic berries, which means no chemicals or fertilizers are used during the entire process.
Aronia berries possess similar characteristics to a blueberry, but with a distinctly different taste.
"Like a dry wine," says Pippett.
Both Lonnie Ploeger and his wife Kathy grew up on farms and thought having their kids lend a helping hand with the berries could serve as a tool to teach some valuable life lessons.
"Trying to teach them responsibility so it'll carry over into their school work and hopefully someday when they get a job, they'll realize that you have to work at something in order to succeed," says Ploeger.
The superfruit snack can also be a tasty treat.
"We mix them in with smoothies or we cheat a little bit and use some ice cream. We shouldn't probably do that and it probably takes away the health benefits, but that's how we do it," Ploeger jokes.
"We put them in banana bread, smoothies, pies and those are pretty good," says Pippett.
Harvesting for the Ploegers has skyrocketed so much that this time around they had to bring in a machine to help collect the aronias berries.
"It was kind of a social gathering when we didn't have as many berries and we all had a lot of fun out here, but this year we had to change that because there is so many out here," says Ploeger.
"It's catching on more and more as the days go by, but it started probably five or six years ago and you see more and more interest every single day," says Pippett.
If you would like more information on aronia berries, call 712-539-2777.
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