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Crop Spot: Blueberries

Blueberries, a member of the heather family, are native to Michigan and can be found growing in prairies, woodlands, rocky bluffs, sand dunes and bogs across the state. Most Michiganders, however, don’t forage for these tasty treats but instead get them from our state’s nearly 600 blueberry farms- most of which are in the Southwest part of the state. Every year, these farms produce about 92 million pounds of blueberries from July – September which makes Michigan the third largest producer of blueberries in the country. 

In the Garden:

Blueberries love acidic, well drained soil which is why they grow well in sandy, boggy areas. If you want to try your hand growing your own, first test your soil to determine its acidity (pH). Then, ask your local extension office about recommendations for adjusting your soil pH. This article also provides a great overview of how to establish blueberries in a home garden.

In the Medicine Cabinet:

Blueberries are full of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and polyphenols that can lessen inflammation and protect our body’s cells. They are also a good source of Vitamin C (tissue health, wound healing, immune system health), are high in manganese (bone development, cholesterol metabolism), and are a great source of fiber (satiety, cholesterol balance, blood sugar regulation).

In the Kitchen:

Personally, my favorite way to eat blueberries is by the handful, especially when they’re just picked. However, they are great additions to a lot of different dishes. Here are some simple ways to add more blueberries into your meals and snacks:

• Make a Smoothie! Combine 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup local yogurt or full fat milk, ice cubes, and your favorite nut butter for a protein filled breakfast or post-workout treat.
• Jazz up Your Salad. Blueberries add brightness and a pop of flavor to green salads and a nice sweetness to cold grain (think wheat berry or wild rice) salads.
• Freeze. Use as ice cubes in a fancy drink (or water!) or simply eat as a cooling summer snack.
• Get Saucy. Combine pureed berries with savory ingredients for a delicious glaze like this or this.

Other Great Blueberry Recipes:

• Classic flavors combine in this Blueberry Lemon Muffin recipe
• A Savory Blueberry Basil Pizza uses all that basil growing in your garden and makes a great weeknight meal.
• Feeling fancy? Try this Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Compote. Yum!

How do you like to enjoy your blueberries?

Kelly Wilson, RDN, is the Director of Community Partners for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at kelly@localdifference.org

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  in Agriculture, Crop Spot, Find Local Food, Health