Monday, August 12, 2013

Blueberries, blueberries Oh My!

I think I have discovered blueberries. Some of you are wondering, what do you mean by that? I mean, I think blueberries are my new favorite fruit. They are great to snack on, have with ice cream, make pies with......you name it, and I have just realized that seriously!

Let me explain, I am Latin and as such, blueberries did not exist in my life until about 7 years ago. I never ate them as a child, I don't recall seeing them anywhere in the house, and basically they were not part of my Spanish upbringing even when it was mostly here in the United States. I am the tropical fruit type of person, I love (!!!) mangoes, pineapples, papayas, passion fruit, bananas........I tell you my mouth is watering as I write this, but of course these are hard to find.

My husband on the other hand loves blueberries among other fruits and as soon as we moved back to the east coast, he started to buy them and eat them with cereal which I thought was pretty weird and not appetizing to me but then again, I don't eat cereal. Anyhow, about eight years ago he suggested we go to a nearby farm where you can pick your own, whatever is in season and this is how I got introduced to blueberries. I have to say that I was not too enthusiastic about going to a farm but went because our kids had not been to a vegetable-fruit farm before. I actually had no idea how blueberries grew, a tree? A bush?

blueberries attached to the bush

Anyway, I tried them right off the bush and while it was not love at first taste, I am fully on board now. I love them! When we went with the kids, my daughter and I would have a contest as to who would find the biggest blueberries. And so, she and I always had bags with bigger blueberries than my husband and son.

bunch of picked blueberries

I must say now that the kids are grown and gone, I still look forward to when blueberries are in season and our trip to the farm. I think blueberries freshly picked are the best!! For that matter any fruit or vegetable freshly picked and eaten right away tastes the best. This is true for mangoes, pineapples, papayas, apples, peaches, you name it. Oh yeah, the best part of blueberry picking is that there are no thorns to deal with.

This year, once again when we went to the farm and while eating my share of them, I remembered kidding with my kids that blueberry picking was actually about me getting my yearly dose of whatever vitamins blueberries had.

That got me thinking, what are those blueberry vitamins? What is it about blueberries? This is what I found.
  • Blueberries are the second most consumed fruit in the United States, only after strawberries.
  • Blueberries are a native fruit of North America.
  • Blueberries are high in antioxidants ranking higher than many fruits and vegetables.
  • Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C, K, Manganese and some fiber.
  • Raw blueberries have the highest nutritional benefits.
  • Organically grown blueberries have the highest antioxidants.
  • Blueberries can be frozen without losing taste or antioxidant content. 
  • Blueberries can help reduce the total cholesterol, raising HDL and lowering triglycerides but you must consume 1-2 cups per day!
  • Blueberries can help you regulate your blood sugar especially if you are already a diabetic; otherwise it helps you achieve a healthy level of blood sugar.
  • In older adults, it has been shown to have cognitive benefits.
  • Blueberries can improve your memory.
  • Preliminary studies have indicated blueberries can help protect the retina of the eye from sunlight.
  • Blueberries are under study for anti-cancer potential benefits. Cancers include; breast cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, and small intestine cancers.
I don't know about you but if you ask me, it seems to me blueberries are the perfect fruit except that now I got to eat 1-2 cups daily?! Hmmmm sounds like a challenge. Got to do the math to figure out what the yearly cost would be but then again, if this keeps the doctor away and keeps my memory healthy.......then what am I waiting for?

Hail to the perfect fruit

blueberry

Here are some fun facts.
  • About 550 million pounds are grown worldwide; 275 million pounds are grown in the United States.
  • The next largest producer is Canada, producing roughly 30%
  • Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, and North Carolina are the main growers.
  • In 2007 the typical North American consumed on average 22 ounces of blueberries, in 1997 this was 13 ounces.

So if you live near a farm, go and visit them, support your local farmer by picking whatever is in season. It is healthy and the atmosphere is peaceful, beautiful to look at, fragrant and quite tasty. Being a farmer is not an easy life but I am sure thankful they do it.

Here are some pictures of the farm I like to go to, Larriland Farm.

photo of Larriland farm

another photo of Larriland farm