Fun Facts: Cherries

•Cherries were brought to America by ship with early settlers in the 1600s.

•Michigan is the leader in producing tart cherries. They produce 200-250 million pounds of tart cherries per year.

•In 1852, Peter Dougherty,a Presbyterian missionary living in northern Michigan, planted cherry trees on Old Mission Peninsula (near Traverse City, Michigan). Much to the surprise of the other farmers and Indians who lived in the area, Dougherty's cherry trees flourished and soon other residents of the area planted trees. The area proved to be ideal for growing cherries because Lake Michigan tempers Arctic winds in winter and cools the orchards in summer.

•There are 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree and it takes 250 cherries to make a cherry pie.

•The third week of July is usually the peak of cherry harvest in the US.

•Cherry pie filling is the number one pie filling sold in the US.

•Tart cherries contain 19 times the of beta carotene of blueberries and strawberries.

•They are also rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin E and also provide potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and fiber.

•Tart cherries are one of the few known food sources of melatonin. Melatonin is an antioxidant that helps regulate our circadian rhythms and natural sleep patterns.

•A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that tart cherries ranked 14 in the top 50 foods for highest antioxidant content per serving size—surpassing red wine, prunes, dark chocolate and orange juice.

World of Food:  Cherries