A new crop may be emerging in Iowa as Americans search for healthier food products. The aronia berry is currently grown on a handful of farms in the western part of the state, including a site near Missouri Valley which may be the largest aronia plantation in the U.S.
Eldon Everhart, a horticulture specialist with Iowa State University Extension, predicts the berry’s popularity will skyrocket. "So, at some point in time, maybe Iowa won’t just be corn and beans," Everhart says, "but corn and beans and aronia berries." The aronia berry is considered to be three times healthier than a blueberry.
Everhart says the aronia berry can greatly reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Aronia berries are popular in Russia and Poland, but haven’t caught on in the U.S. just yet. Everhart says they can be used just like a cranberry or blueberry.
He says aronia berries can be used in baked goods, jams and jellies, or yogurt. The berries are also used to make a dry wine. Everhart says aronia berry ice cream is the top selling ice cream in Poland..