National Geographic : 1977 Aug
Homemade sauce is ahead for Fred Braun, plucking wild cran berries (above) from a bog on his Antigo timberland. Where the glacier left a depression below the water table, wetlands developed vital wildlife habitat and key to one of the nation's biggest cran berry crops. In the late 1800's thousands of acres were drained for farmland. To the dismay of conservationists, tracts are again being drained; since 1970, seven percent of the state's remaining privately owned wetlands have been dried up for farming. Working wild-rice beds on the Wolf River, Larry Shadick poles as John Schuster whacks kernels loose. Non-Indians, they use an old Indian technique-the only one permitted for gathering the no longer plentiful grass grains relished by natural-food devotees and gourmet cooks. On good days the pair can gather 200 pounds, which they sell to wholesalers for up to 90 cents a pound.