9 facts about cranberries that will make you reconsider your allegiance to Team Gravy.

Turkey's great and stuffing has its place, but let's be honest, November is the season for cranberries. And while this delicious berry makes its way to our tables (and our hearts) each holiday season, there's a lot to learn about this curious little fruit.

1. Cranberries and America go waaaaaaaaay back.

This tart little fruit has a rich history in the United States. Cranberries are one of the three fruits native to America that are still commercially grown today. Native Americans used cranberries for food and medicine, as its anti-inflammatory capabilities made it a powerful healing agent.


Image by How Does It Grow/YouTube.

2. Cranberries got their name from an iconic bird.

Each spring, small, pink blossoms emerge on cranberry vines. They hang down in a cone shape, like the bill of a sandhill crane. As such, the fruit was originally called a "craneberry." As language does when we get lazy with it, it gradually shifted to "cranberry."

Cranberry blossoms in spring. Image via How Does It Grow/Youtube.

3. Contrary to popular belief (and all those Ocean Spray commercials) cranberries don't actually grow underwater.

When you see pictures of cranberry fields, it often appears as though the berries grow in water, but that's not the case. Cranberries grow on vines in wetland beds layered with sand, gravel, clay, and peat, which is partially decomposed vegetable matter.

These sunken beds are called bogs.

A cranberry bog close-up. Image via How Does It Grow/Youtube.

Farmers flood the bogs twice each year — first, in December, to protect the dormant cranberry plants from severe winter weather.

All GIFs via How Does It Grow/Youtube.

Then the following October, farmers flood the bog once more and use commercial tools to shake the vines and release the ripe berries, which float on the water.

Then farmers corral the fruit and load it onto trucks. This process is called a wet harvest.

4. About 768 million pounds of cranberries are grown in the U.S. each year.

Americans consume about 400 million pounds of the tart fruit, and nearly 20% of the harvest is gobbled up the week of Thanksgiving. Sorry, gravy.

That's not Mars. Those are cranberries on the surface of the water before they're corralled onto a truck. GIF via How Does It Grow/Youtube.

5. The state that produces the most cranberries in the world is best known for producing cheese.

You can find commercial cranberry bogs in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. And while the state is best known for cheese, Wisconsin is actually the #1 producer of cranberries in the world, raising over 450 million pounds in 2012.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank (left) and Kate VandenBosch, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, wade into knee-deep water at Cranberry Creek Cranberries Inc. in Necedah, Wisconsin. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison, used with permission.

6. Only 5% of cranberries are sold as fresh fruit.

The rest are sold as juice, cranberry sauce, as dried cranberries, or powdered for medicines.

Image via How Does It Grow/Youtube.

7. There are nearly 10 pounds of cranberries in a gallon of cranberry juice.

That's about 4,400 berries to a bottle! Holy freaking cranberries, Batman!

Photo by Andrew Yee/Flickr.

8. There are eight places in the U.S. named Cranberry, or a close variation of the word.

Including not one but two places called Cranberry Township in Pennsylvania, which isn't confusing at all. Sadly, none of these places are neighbors to Turkey, Texas, or Turkey Creek, Louisiana, which seems like a real missed opportunity if you ask me.

Over the river and through the woods to Cranberry! Photo by Gerrit Quast/Flickr.

9. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and helpful nutrients.

Cranberries are a super-fruit of sorts, with many concentrated health benefits. The berries are a natural source of lutein, which is great for eye health, and quercetin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Farmers harvest cranberries from a flooded bog at Cranberry Creek Cranberries. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

All this to say that cranberries are pretty darn amazing.

They are good for your body, a big boost for the economy, and one of America's oldest and most beloved crops. They're not the new turkey, but in the war of side dishes and turkey accompaniments, cranberries are definitely giving gravy a run for its money.

Mmmmm cranberry sauce. In your face, gravy. Photo by didriks/Flickr.

See the cranberry growing process from start to finish in this short video from How Does It Grow:

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."