Wisconsin’s 71st Alice in Dairyland, Kaitlyn Riley, visited Marshfield this week to talk about the cranberry and how to use the Wisconsin product in the kitchen.
“Cranberries are a great way for us to enjoy something sweet while getting a healthy impact not only to ourselves but to our state,” she said.
Wisconsin is first in the nation for cranberries, providing 64% of the nation’s supply last year. While there are only 250 cranberry growers in the state, collectively they harvested 5.4 million, 100-pound barrels in 2017.
Besides the typical juices and sauces, cranberries can be found in about 1,000 different products on the market, from seasonings to bath products.
“It really is amazing how versatile this fruit is,” noted Riley.
Now more than halfway through her time as Alice, she reflected on the most memorable parts of the experience.
“One thing that’s really impacted me is not only to talk about the industries that are number on but seeing those industries…We’re not just number one for cheese, but we’re also number one for cranberries, ginseng, and mink pelts.”
At the Ginseng Festival in Wausau last fall, she was able to dig her own ginseng root and learn more about the high risk that goes into raising the product, which is harvested 3-5 years after planting.
Riley was inspired by the people she met at World Dairy Expo in Madison who didn’t come from agricultural backgrounds, but held an interest in agriculture. As Alice, Riley educates youth on the diverse opportunities in agriculture at a time when 1 in 9 jobs in Wisconsin are related to the industry.
“The biggest advice I give to them is to do what they’re passionate about,” she said.
About 23,000 miles into traveling the state, Riley travels in a signature corn-wrapped car dubbed “Maisie” that runs on E85. The ethanol is made from corn different from the type that ends up in cans on the grocery store shelf.
“I think it’s a great way to showcase a pride for Wisconsin agriculture and help our corn growers who have a large influx of their product on the market and in storage,” she said. “We want to help them so they receive a fair price for their hard work.”
Already the process has begun for the next Alice in Dairyland with interviews starting this month. Six applicants will be selected as the top candidates for the position and receive training, before attending final rounds in May for industry tours while being shadowed by a panel of industry members. The candidates will also give presentations and develop marketing campaigns.
Riley will meet with the women to discuss her time as Alice, which concludes in June. But until then, she’ll stay busy promoting agriculture, speaking with those in industry about their plans for next year, and interacting with youth of all ages.
Visit www.aliceindairyland.com/ for more information on Alice.
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½ cup yogurt (any flavor)
½ cup milk
½ cup frozen Wisconsin cranberries
1 tbsp. Wisconsin Honey
Combine ingredients in blender and pulse until smooth.
No-Bake Cranberry Breakfast Bites
¾ cup peanut butter
3 tbsp. Wisconsin honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup dried Wisconsin cranberries
In a bowl, combine peanut butter, honey, and vanilla. Mix in oats and dried cranberries, then shape into bite-sized balls. Flatten slightly into cookie shapes on wax paper, then refrigerate overnight. Customize recipe by adding ingredients like flaxseed or white chocolate chips.