My family spent some time on the Columbia River this weekend and were blessed with the opportunity to pick cherries at the amazing Hood River Organics CSA. It was a scary evening for the farmers though, thunderstorms raged the entire night, very unusual for the end of July. Rain water sitting on cherries ruins them, they absorb the moisture and then literally explode!! The farmers and their reliable friends got to picking very early that morning in an attempt to save the orchard. When we rolled in around 10am, the entire irrigated section of the orchard had been picked clean. With the crop fan humming away in the background, and the typical River Gorge wind nearly blowing us over, we took to picking at the handful of non-irrigated trees that are reserved for family and friends. Within minutes both of my children were covered in cherry juice from the super-sweet Lamberts. It didn’t take long for us to fill two enormous buckets, despite the number going straight into little bellies. We headed back to Seattle a few hours later with a trunk full of delicious, organic, tree-ripened purple Lamberts and golden-red Rainiers. What a treat!
As delicious as they are, cherries are a food that can also be classified medicinally. Remember, food is medicine too and should be at the very core of a healthy lifestyle.
According to Bob Flaws in The Tao of Healthy Eating, cherries are considered sweet, aromatic and warm, affecting the Spleen, Stomach, Lung, Heart and Kidney channels. Cherries supplement qi, nourish blood, engender fluids, move and transform blood stasis, and dispel wind dampness. They can be used to treat wind heat dry sore throats, qi and blood deficiency, wind damp impediment in the lower half of the body, and numbness and paralysis.
Rebecca Wood explains in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia that sweet cherries are warming and increase vital energy, toning the Spleen, Liver and Kidneys. They remove excess body acids and blood stagnation when eaten often and can therefore treat gout, paralysis, numbness in the extremities, and rheumatic pain in the lower body.
Cherries are a great source of iron, which vaguely correlates to their status as a blood tonic. They do also contain some phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamin A.