• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

The cranberry scare of 1959: The beginning of the end of the Delaney clause

Dissertation
Author: Mark Ryan Janzen
Abstract:
The cranberry scare of 1959 was the first food scare in the United States involving food additives to have a national impact. It was also the first event to test the Delaney clause, part of a 1958 amendment to the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act prohibiting cancer-causing chemicals in food. Although lasting only a few weeks, the scare significantly affected the cranberry industry and brought the regulation of chemical residues in food to the national stage. Generated by a complex interaction of legislation, technology, media, and science, the scare had far-reaching effects in all areas of the cranberry industry, food legislation, and the perception of the public toward additives and residues in their food. The ripples caused by the scare permanently altered the cranberry industry and, after numerous subsequent scares and challenges to the law, eventually resulted in the repeal of the Delaney clause. The goal of this investigation was to demonstrate how the social, scientific, and political climates in the United States interacted and led to such an event. It shows how science, politics, and contemporary social anxiety combined, with technology as a catalyst, and how the resulting scare left significant marks on the development of both legislation and industry. It also improves our understanding of this seminal event in American social history by exploring the events surrounding the scare, as well as by comparing the perspectives and reactions of the public, the Eisenhower administration, the cranberry industry, and other industries affected by the scare and its aftermath.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page ABSTRACT ………………………………………………………….………… iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ……………………………………..……….……… v TABLE OF CONTENTS ……………………….……………………………… vi LIST OF FIGURES ……………………………………………………………. viii LIST OF TABLES ………………………………………………………..……. ix CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION …...………………………………………… 1 II ENVIRONMENT AND CULTIVATION OF THE AMERICAN CRANBERRY………………………………..………………… 8

Biology and environment………………………………… 8 Consumption and cultivation…………………………….. 14 Technology in cranberry production, 1930-1959………… 27

III UNITED STATES FOOD LEGISLATION AND THE SCIENCE OF CHEMICAL TESTING…………………………………….. 36

Early food concerns and legislation…………………….. 38 Progress toward the 1906 Food and Drug Act………….. 40 The 1958 Food Additives Amendment and the Delaney clause……………………………………………………. 49 Science and the development of chemical testing………. 60

IV FEAR, TECHNOLOGY AND THE MEDIA…………………. 72 Societal fear……………………………………………… 73 Shifting food patterns……………………………………. 75 Food fear and other fears………………………………… 77 Technology and media…………………………………… 78

V THE CRANBERRY SCARE OF 1959………………………… 84

vii

CHAPTER Page

VI NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND OFFICIAL RESPONSES THROUGH NEWSPAPERS……………………………….. 101

Magazine coverage……………………………………… 116 Political responses………………………………………. 117 Secretary Flemming and the scare……………………… 125 Industry responses……………………………………… 131

VII CONCLUSION - EPILOGUE…………………………………. 141 REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………. 158 APPENDIX A – CRANBERRY SCARE TIMELINE………………………… 171 APPENDIX B – SUBSEQUENT CANCER SCARES BASED ON THE DELANEY CLAUSE …………………………………….… 174

VITA…………………………………………………………………….……… 175

viii

LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE Page 1 Map of the main cranberry growing regions in the United States …… 9 2 Regional cranberry productivity, 1940-1965…………..……………… 21 3 Combined number of cranberry scare articles, November 1959……… 114

ix

LIST OF TABLES

TABLE Page 1 Cranberry producing acreage by state, 1947- 1969……………….…... 11 2 Cranberry production by state, 1948- 1969…………………………… 12 3 Cranberry crop carryover statistics, 1948- 1968……………………… 34 4 Amendments to 1938 Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1938- 1960…. 49

5 Number of articles by topic, November through December 1959…… 104

1

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The risk of disruption of agriculture and the food industries if the recognized health hazard gets blown out of proportion by ‗scare journalism‘ before sound answers from all points of view can be found. 1

The cranberry scare of 1959, a nationwide food scare concerning contamination in cranberries by the synthetic chemical aminotriazole (C 2 H 4 N 4 ), was an important historical event for several reasons. As the first major food scare involving chemically contaminated food, it served as a model for social and governmental interaction on such issues. The scare was also a first test of the functionality and acceptability of the 1958 Delaney clause, a specific clause in the 1958 Food Additives Amendment that banned any use of cancer causing chemicals in food for human consumption. The clause was named for Congressman James Delaney (D-NY) who, as a staunch supporter of the protection of food from chemical contamination, was the primary force behind its passage. Although the immediate impact of the cranberry scare on American minds was brief and there was no known physical harm resulting from aminotriazole exposure, the event demonstrated a critically important combination of several social factors generating a broad, society-wide response.

______________ This dissertation follows the style of the Journal of American History.

1 Untitled memorandum, January 31, 1959, Don Paarlberg Files, box 5, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Papers (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene Kansas), 1.

2

Administrative and public responses, as well as media characterizations, placed the notion of a ―food scare‖ into the American public consciousness and helped set the tone for media, administrative, and public interactions in future scares. Scares involving adulteration of food, chemical contamination, and technological misunderstanding became common in American society. General distrust of chemicals and their presence in food, as well as distrust of the motivations of government and industry, generated cranberry scare-like responses into the 21 st century. The cranberry scare was an early manifestation of that collective concern, and the combination of circumstances surrounding it remains a good example of why scares continued to occur. 2

The cranberry scare was the beginning of the end of the Delaney clause. As the first test of the clause‘s complete restriction against the use of carcinogens in food, the cranberry scare demonstrated that the no-tolerance concept was politically and scientifically controversial and its administrative handling needed improvement. Consideration of the problem took 40 years, encompassed numerous carcinogen scares, and witnessed the creation of several new regulatory bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in 1972, and the Food Safety Quality Service (FSQS) in 1977, which became the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in 1981. The repeal of the Delaney clause in 1996 altered Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA

2 Julian Morris and Roger Bate, Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment (Boston, MA: Butterworth Heinemann, 1999), 141-67.

3

regulatory procedures to allow for scientific judgment in setting tolerances, supporting the original scientific arguments against its addition to the Food Additives Amendment. The Eisenhower administration dealt with the cranberry scare. Well before the scare, the Eisenhower administration was aware of the potential problem of chemicals in food as well as the possible consequences to the public and industries. The White House predicted the panic caused by the scare while discussing potential problems with the discovery of harmful chemical residues in milk, but offered no immediate solutions to the problem. 3

This analysis is divided into several chapters designed to demonstrate the interaction of the historical forces generating the scare. In Chapter II, a history of the cranberry industry provides background for the social and economic circumstances of the scare. Chapter III discusses the legislative genesis of the cranberry scare, explains the science and technologies involved in cranberry production and shows how they played crucial roles in the scare. An exploration of the American social consciousness of 1959 in Chapter IV helps understand how various factors combined to create a public panic. A description of the events during the scare ties the factors together in Chapter V, and Chapter VI offers an analysis of the media and public responses to the scare. The conclusion discusses the aftermath of the scare and some of the historical ripples it generated. Appendix A provides a timeline of the major events of the scare, and

3 Confidential memorandum, January 31, 1959, Don Paarlberg Files, box 5, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Papers (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene Kansas), 1.

4

Appendix B presents a list of subsequent Delaney-like scares through repeal of the clause in 1996. Both primary and secondary sources contain valuable evidence of how and why the cranberry scare occurred. The secondary sources discuss what happened during the scare but rarely look at why it happened. A variety of books and journal articles in history, anthropology, science, and medicine mention the cranberry scare in reference to the Delaney clause or carcinogen regulation, but few mention more than the proximity of the scare to Thanksgiving and some damage to the cranberry industry. Three works, Paul Eck‘s The American Cranberry (1990), Dave Engel‘s Cranmoor: The Cranberry El Dorado (2004) and Joseph Thomas‘ Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts (1990) provide a good history of cranberries and the cranberry industry. 4 Works, such as Wallace Janssen‘s The U.S. Food and Drug Law: How It Came, How It Works (1985) and Meredith Hickman‘s The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (2003), focus on the history of the FDA and food law in the United States. 5

Many books and articles look at the science, social and technology issues involved in the scare. Articles in scientific journals, such as Science, occasionally include some basic analysis of the events, with most focusing on the Delaney clause and

4 Paul Eck, The American Cranberry (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990); Dave Engel, Cranmoor: The Cranberry Eldorado (Rudolph, WI: River City Memoirs, 2004); Joseph D. Thomas, Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts, (New Bedford, MA: Spinner Publications, 1990). 5 Wallace F. Janssen and United States. Food and Drug Administration., The U.S. Food and Drug Law: How It Came, How It Works (Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Service, Food and Drug Administration, 1985) and Meredith A. Hickmann, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2003).

5

its merits regarding chemical analysis for human consumption. 6 Biomedical journals, such as the American Journal of Hospital Pharmacology, mention the scare as historical background for the use of cranberries as a healthful alternative for several medical conditions. 7 Legal journals, such as the California Law Review and the Food and Drug Law Journal, consistently focus on the scare as the first test of the Delaney clause in its long and controversial history. 8 No single work focuses entirely on the scare. Five major secondary works provide the historical background of food and the general state of fear concerning food in the United States. Andrea Arnold and Jay Sandlin‘s Fear of Food: Environmentalist Scams, Media Mendacity and the Law of Disparagement (1990), Madeleine Ferrières Mad Cow, Sacred Cow: A History of Food Fears (2006), Michelle Stacey‘s Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food (1994), and Julian Morris and Roger Bate‘s Fearing Food: Risk, Health, and Environment (1999) develop the concept of how and why people fear food in different ways. 9 Corey Robin‘s Fear: The History of a Political Idea (2004) discusses the connection between fear and politics. 10

The most illuminating resources detailing the cranberry scare and its background are primary sources. Papers from the Eisenhower Presidential Library provide detailed

6 T. H. Jukes and C. B. Shaffer, "Antithyroid Effects of Aminotriazole," Science 132, no. 3422 (1960), 296-7. 7 B. G. Hughes and L. D. Lawson, "Nutritional Content of Cranberry Products," Am J Hosp Pharm 46, no. 6 (1989). 8 Charles H. Blank, "The Delaney Clause: Technical Naïveté and Scientific Advocacy in the Formulation of Public Health Policies," California Law Review 62, no. 4 (1974); Frederick H. Degnan and W. Gary Flamm, "Living with and Reforming the Delaney Clause," Food and Drug Law Journal 50, no. 2 (1995). 9 Andrea Arnold and Jay Sandlin, Fear of Food: Environmentalist Scams, Media Mendacity, and the Law of Disparagement, 1st ed. (Bellevue, WA: Free Enterprise Press : Distributed by Merrill Press, 1990); Madeleine Ferrières, Sacred Cow, Mad Cow: A History of Food Fears, Arts and Traditions of the Table (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006); Michelle Stacey, Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994); Morris and Bate, Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment. 10 Corey Robin, Fear: The History of a Political Idea (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

6

information on the administrative reaction to the scare, as well as a view of the public response through letters and telegrams. Eisenhower Library documents include not only Presidential documents, but also documents bearing on the actions of Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) Secretary Arthur Flemming, Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Benson, and other cabinet members. George Kistiakowski‘s A Scientist at the White House: The Private Diary of President Eisenhower’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (1976) offers personal insights into the scare from an individual who was directly involved. 11 Documents from the pre-Presidential collections of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library provide perspectives on Congressional activity and support during the scare. The papers of Joseph Delaney, in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives of the University at Albany, State University of New York, clarify his actions in creating and defending the Delaney clause. Because the media reported the scare, newspapers are a primary source of information on public and media response. Suzanne White‘s dissertation ―Chemistry and Controversy: Regulating Chemicals in Food, 1883-1959,‖ was important for understanding FDA actions during the scare. 12 Many individual sections of the U.S. Code, as well as related hearings and inquiries, were critical to understanding the scare. Most of the information on the perspective of the cranberry industry and Ocean Spray comes from documents in the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association archives

11 George B. Kistiakowsky, A Scientist at the White House: The Private Diary of President Eisenhower's Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976). 12 Suzanne Rebecca White and Emory University., "Chemistry and Controversy: Regulating the Use of Chemicals in Foods, 1883-1959" (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1994.).

7

in Wisconsin Rapids and Edward Lipman‘s Labor of Love: My Life’s Work with Cranberries and Ocean Spray (1997). 13 Secondary sources, such as Sharon Friedman, Sharon Dunwoody and Carol Rogers‘ Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science and Ann Crigler‘s The Psychology of Political Communication helped to understand media interactions and risk assessment. 14

This thesis adds to the history of the cranberry scare by going beyond description of the facts and events of the scare to consider the deeper roots of the scare in science, contemporary social tension, and political maneuvering. It incorporates information on the social environment in the late 1950s, the background of food legislation in the United States, and media technologies into the understanding of why the scare occurred. Consideration of the interrelationship between cancer fears, the Delaney Provision, scientific analysis, and media technology, as well as the perspectives of the Eisenhower administration and the cranberry industry are pivotal to our understanding of the cranberry scare as a pivotal event. Without investigation and understanding of these contributing factors, the cranberry scare remains a one-dimensional historical footnote largely overshadowed by international political struggles, wars, national race issues, and regional disasters.

13 Edward Voorhees Lipman and Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., Labor of Love: My Life's Work with Cranberries and Ocean Spray (New Brunswick, NJ: The author, 1997). 14 Sharon M. Friedman, Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999); Ann N. Crigler, The Psychology of Political Communication (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996).

8

CHAPTER II ENVIRONMENT AND CULTIVATION OF THE AMERICAN CRANBERRY This chapter explores the history of the American cranberry, its cultivation, and the bog environment. Much of the background of the cranberry scare of 1959 revolved around the environment and the plant‘s biology, which dictated the circumstances in which farmers operated. The biology of the plant and the history of its cultivation help explain why an herbicide like aminotriazole became the focus of attention in a cancer scare.

Biology and environment The genus Vaccinium is a large and varied group of plants, including blueberries, cowberries, snowberries, and cranberries. Although similar in form and development, each has different environmental and nutritional requirements and tends to be very sensitive to changes in environmental conditions. Varieties of cranberry are found all over the world from North America to Europe and Asia. Varieties include the lignonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) in Europe and the small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) throughout Europe and Asia. 15

The American version of the cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) grows wild throughout the northeastern United States and southern Canada. Its natural range extends from Newfoundland south to Appalachian Tennessee and as far west as Wisconsin. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon dominate

15 Eck, The American Cranberry, 43-5.

9

cranberry production. West coast cranberries are outside the natural range of the American cranberry and are universally transplanted. V. macrocarpon is the only commercially cultivated species of cranberry, with more than 90% of the producing bogs within the United States, and is the primary source for cranberry juice and sauces on the worldwide market (See Figure 1). 16

Figure 1: Map of the main cranberry growing regions in the United States

16 Ibid., 43-4.

10

The large American cranberry is a perennial evergreen vine that produces low, dense, and trailing patches of vegetation. The woody stemmed vines consist of several lateral runners, which can exceed two meters if left undisturbed. Periodic vertical stems originate from the leaf axils and often reach five to twenty centimeters in height. Half of such uprights develop several flowers along their length, but the rest of the uprights remain infertile. Each flower can produce one berry, although growers consider two berries per upright, or roughly one-third of the flowers, productive. 17

Regional variations in productivity and acreage under cultivation shaped the market and the relative impact of technologies and agricultural innovations. The Wisconsin growing region was often the first region to adopt new technologies and to implement new growing and harvesting practices because of its large natural acreage and the freedom to experiment with new techniques without disturbing production. More established growing areas, such as those in Massachusetts, were too widely dispersed to effectively apply many new technologies without extensive bog redesign. This trend toward technological integration resulted in significantly higher average annual yields per acre from Wisconsin bogs. 18

17 Ibid., 49-55. 18 Engel, Cranmoor: The Cranberry Eldorado, 110-25.

11

Table 1: Cranberry-producing acreage by state, 1948-1969

Growing Region

Acres/percent of total production

1948 - 57

1958

1959

1969

Massachusetts

14,080/58%

12,900/62%

12,800/60%

11,100/52%

New Jersey

5,320/22%

2,500/12%

2,800/13%

3,000/14%

Wisconsin

3,630/15%

4,100/20%

4,200/20%

5,400/25%

Washington

790/3%

900/4%

1,000/5%

1,000/5%

Oregon

422/2%

520/2%

540/2%

745/4%

Average total

24,242

20,920

21,340

21,185

19

Production in all of the growing regions grew steadily from the 1940s through the scare. The relative percentages of the overall crop generated by each region shifted to varying degrees, with a large decrease in the Massachusetts region and a large increase in the Wisconsin region (See Tables 1 and 2). Technologically advanced bogs in Wisconsin outpaced older bogs on the East Coast, despite Wisconsin‘s smaller cultivated acreage. The cranberry industry experienced a steady decline in acreage harvested from the boom times of World War I, when wartime consumption drove prices to all-time highs, but the steadily increasing productivity of the remaining acreage meant increased overall production. The 1959 scare increased this acreage reduction trend, forcing the industry to its lowest point since 1900. 20

19 United States. Dept. of Agriculture., Agricultural Statistics, 1936- ed. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.), 1960, 180-1; ibid., 1975, 231. 20 Eck, The American Cranberry, 19-28.

12

Table 2: Cranberry production by state, 1948-1969

Growing Region

100 lb. barrels /percent of total production

1948 - 57

1958

1959

1969

Mass a chusetts

558,100/57%

598,000/51%

610,000/52%

755,000/41%

Wisconsin

256,100/26%

389,000/33%

405,000/35%

746,000/41%

New Jersey

85,900/9%

89,000/8%

110,000/9%

160,000/9%

Washington

53,460/5%

57,300/5%

94,500/8%

105,000/6%

Oregon

25,470/3%

32,300/3%

44,000/4%

57,100/3%

Total production

979,030

1,165,600

1,263,500

1,823,100

21

Cranberries have very specific environmental and nutritional requirements which limit them to only a few natural locations. In particular they require peat bogs with acidic soil, consistent seasonal water availability, and good drainage characteristics for optimal growing environments. The shallow root structure of the vines thrives best in thin sandy soils, generally consisting of multiple layers of sand and decomposing vegetation. Relatively minimal nutritional requirements make large-scale fertilization unnecessary. 22

Pests, competition with other plant species, disease, and spring frosts are the most common problems in cultivating a cranberry bog. Numerous insects, mammals and birds feed on the ripe berries as well as the plants themselves. Other bog plants, including grasses, poison ivy, and asters, compete with the cranberry for nutrients, sunlight, and water. Bacterial and fungal diseases were also common in cranberry

21 United States. Dept. of Agriculture., Agricultural Statistics, 1960, 180-81; ibid., 1970, 231. 22 Eck, The American Cranberry, 136-40.

13

patches. All four problems could seriously impair the productivity of a natural or constructed cranberry bog. 23

Optimum growth temperatures depend on the vine‘s stage of development. Cranberry vines, normally very cold resistant, were prone to frost damage at certain times in their developmental cycle. They require a certain number of hours between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit to break their dormancy cycle and begin their flowering cycle, but a frost at the wrong time could reduce productivity. The vines also require significant periods of dryness and warmer temperatures to complete their cycle and to produce fruit. 24

The long-term sustainability of a cranberry bog depends on the quality and preservation of its wetland resources. Bogs naturally suitable for cranberry development are commonly part of swamp and wetland ecosystems. Complex systems of flood and drainage control are necessary to maintain the water quality while providing enough water for cranberry production. Such regions, which are common in central Wisconsin and along the Eastern United States, are very sensitive environmentally and demand careful management to protect both the cranberry environment and that of the supporting flora and fauna. 25

23 Byron S. Peterson, Chester E. Cross, and Nathaniel Tilden, The Cranberry Industry in Massachusetts (Boston, MA: Dept. of Agriculture, Division of Markets, 1968), 16-52. 24 Eck, The American Cranberry, 104-9. 25 John Harker et al., Cranberry Agriculture in Maine : A Grower's Guide, (Orono, ME: University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 1997), Chapter 12, 1-30.

14

Consumption and cultivation The American cranberry has been an important food source for every recorded group living near North American cranberry-growing regions, as well as a profitable crop for more than two centuries. Native Americans, colonists, and generations of Americans have valued their taste, healthful properties, and natural abundance. As a traditional holiday food, cranberries have held a special place in American social history. 26

The first known use of the word "cranberries" in English occurred in a letter by the missionary John Eliot in 1647. 27 The word cranberries, originally ―craneberries‖, came from the appearance of the plant‘s flowers, which closely resembled the heads of cranes. The fruit was highly sought after by cranes and other birds of the coastal regions, and it would have been natural to associate the two. In 1617, Captain John Smith mentioned an unknown variety of red berry in his log. Growing abundantly in the area that would become Massachusetts, they were likely cranberries. Cranberries were also referred to by early Americans as bearberries, reflecting the dominant wildlife consumer of the ripe berries. 28

Early American documents included descriptions of several Native American uses of the cranberry. The native fruit was considered an important staple for the peoples who had access to bogs and was the source of a distinctive dye. The berries could be stored easily for long periods, and provided nutritious winter food. Native Americans ate

26 Brownstone, Cecily, Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, ―Be Different With Cranberries,‖ p. 9, November 9, 1959 27 Thomas, Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts, 18. 28 Eck, The American Cranberry, 1-3.

15

the berries in raw, dried, and processed form. Pemmican, a mixture of cranberries and ground meat or fish made into dry cakes, became a common food on the frontier. Succotash, a mixture of corn, beans and cranberries, was a common traditional dish throughout the Northeast. Northeastern tribes, such as the Delaware, considered the cranberry a symbol of peace and friendship. The giving and eating of cranberries was a central element of any native feast of peace and community. 29

Cranberry consumption and use patterns by early settlers closely followed those of Native Americans. Early communities learned to use and trade their cranberry resources. A barrel or two of cranberries could bring a handsome sum and supplement a farming family‘s income in a subsistence environment. Cranberries often sold well in areas that did not have easy access to natural bogs and had large populations willing to use the berries. 30

The association of cranberries with fall feasting was not coincidental. Cranberries were typically harvested from September through November, depending upon the latitude and the variety of berry. Although there was no specific record of cranberries being a part of the first Thanksgiving feast, the fact that the berries were important to the native diet and food culture indicates they probably were present at such a momentous gathering. 31

Cranberries were known to have significant medicinal properties in addition to their nutritional value. As a rich source of vitamin C and other nutrients, cranberries

29 Thomas, Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts, 18-25. 30 Eck, The American Cranberry, 1-13. 31 Thomas, Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts, 19-21.

16

were a good means of preventing the vitamin deficiency disease scurvy. Slightly laxative and mildly antibiotic, cranberries were common remedies for diarrhea, dysentery, and dropsy. Native Americans knew that poultices of crushed berries were effective against some bacterial skin infections and inflammatory tumors, commonly known as erysipelas or St. Anthony‘s fire, well before any medical understanding of antibacterial substances developed. 32

One major element of the early economics of cranberry gathering was that bogs were generally not useful for other forms of agriculture. Swampy and subject to periodic floods, the land was difficult to drain and not suitable for most crops. Many areas that supported cranberry bogs were also mined for iron ore, which formed naturally within the layers of peat as they filtered mineral-rich water. These sources of iron kept the early colonial forges running until colonists discovered larger traditional mines. Competition for land capable of producing both cranberries and valuable iron might have encouraged colonists to cultivate berries by exposing them to the berry‘s unique environment. 33

Cranberries quickly became an important gathered crop and were commonly exported to other colonies and England. Early legal concerns over ownership and land rights were common. There were laws against early picking, and some communities imposed fines for possession of berries out of season. Both healthful and profitable, cranberries moved quickly from a native novelty to a community necessity. 34

32 Charlotte Erichsen-Brown, Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants : A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes (New York: Dover Publications, 1989), 206-7. 33 Fredrika Alexander Burrows, Cannonballs & Cranberries, 1st ed. (Taunton, MA: W.S. Sullwold, 1976), 13-20. 34 Eck, The American Cranberry, 1-14.

17

The earliest mentions of cranberry gathering by European settlers were always as community activities. Whole communities turned out to harvest cranberries. The picking of a ripe cranberry bog could last for days, and often took on a festival atmosphere. The labor-intensive activity of picking, cleaning, sorting, and packing the berries required many hands, and the processes changed very little through the 1700s and 1800s. Individuals involved in the picking were often paid in cranberries. Low-cost immigrant labor, largely of British and central European origin, in the early to mid-1800s took many of the tasks out of the hands of the general community. Some of the earliest commercialized cranberry growing efforts date from this period when cheap labor was combined with improved growing methods. 35

The earliest known cranberry cultivation efforts date from 1810. Henry Hall, a farmer, entrepreneur, and scientist, of Dennis, Massachusetts, recorded detailed observations of changes in the growth patterns and productivity of cranberries in response to environmental changes, such as wind-blown sand and periodic flooding. He also experimented with transplanting cuttings from one area to another to determine the best locations for maximum productivity. Hall‘s methodical development of an understanding of the cranberry and its environment led to the beginning of the industry. 36

Full document contains 185 pages
Abstract: The cranberry scare of 1959 was the first food scare in the United States involving food additives to have a national impact. It was also the first event to test the Delaney clause, part of a 1958 amendment to the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act prohibiting cancer-causing chemicals in food. Although lasting only a few weeks, the scare significantly affected the cranberry industry and brought the regulation of chemical residues in food to the national stage. Generated by a complex interaction of legislation, technology, media, and science, the scare had far-reaching effects in all areas of the cranberry industry, food legislation, and the perception of the public toward additives and residues in their food. The ripples caused by the scare permanently altered the cranberry industry and, after numerous subsequent scares and challenges to the law, eventually resulted in the repeal of the Delaney clause. The goal of this investigation was to demonstrate how the social, scientific, and political climates in the United States interacted and led to such an event. It shows how science, politics, and contemporary social anxiety combined, with technology as a catalyst, and how the resulting scare left significant marks on the development of both legislation and industry. It also improves our understanding of this seminal event in American social history by exploring the events surrounding the scare, as well as by comparing the perspectives and reactions of the public, the Eisenhower administration, the cranberry industry, and other industries affected by the scare and its aftermath.