What makes a cranberry farm sacred?

g94383dA couple weeks ago, while eating, I was idly reading the back of my Ocean Spray cranberry juice bottle and found myself being introduced to Gary Garretson, fourth-generation cranberry grower from South Carver, MA. There was his photo, standing knee-deep in cranberries. And there was a little testimonial about how his cranberry farm is “sacred” to him. Naturally, the s-word got my attention.

This is the full version of Gary’s testimonial–or the testimonial the copy writer prepared for him, as the case may be–as it appears at the Ocean Spray website.

This farm is sacred to me. Heck, my vines go back to the turn of the century. That’s why I treat them with the utmost respect and care, and work tirelessly to harvest a quality product. Sometimes I’ll go out, lie down next to the vines and listen to them talk–they tell me what they need. I know. Sounds a little out there. But if I don’t work in concert with Mother Nature, I’m not gonna succeed. Luckily, she and I both have very high standards.

I’m intrigued by the underlying notion of sacrality that appears to underlie this statement. What makes this farm sacred–or, alternatively interpreted, what are the signs that the farm is sacred? Let’s make a list:

  • The vines are a century old.
  • He treats them with “utmost” respect and care.
  • He works “tirelessly.”
  • He has “very high standards” for the quality of his produce.
  • He engages in the “out there” practice of listening to the vines talk to him.
  • He works in concert with Mother Nature.

So if we use this advertising copy as a window into 21st-century American conceptions of what is sacred, I would tweak the list above to look like this:

  • Things that are old, in the sense of being understood as a heritage, are sacred.
  • Things that are treated with the “utmost” reverence are sacred.
  • Hard work is sacred.
  • Commitment to producing high-quality products for consumers is sacred.
  • Practices that push the bounds of the rational or conventional may be marked by that fact as sacred.
  • A kind of ecological consciousness is sacred.
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