(Picture courtesy of LarryBo8 at flickr.com.)
Having spent July 4th weekend on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where blueberries are a major crop, I’ve been enjoying the taste of blueberries fresh from the fields, and loving it. That they are health food is wonderful, and a freedom to slather blueberries on everything else.
Don’t hate me, but I got to pick blueberries off the bush at Van Buren State Park, and enjoy samples of fat, pampered ones at The Blueberry Store in South Haven. The second big event next to July 4th there is the Blueberry Festival, but you can pick the fruit by hand right now in their version of heat – 89F – which to this Texan doesn’t feel at all hot.
Blueberries have a lot of good qualities.
In just one serving, you can get 14 mg of Vitamin C – almost 25 percent of your daily requirement. Vitamin C aids the formation of collagen and helps maintain healthy gums and capillaries. It also promotes iron absorption and a healthy immune system1,2.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), blueberries are near the top when it comes to antioxidant activity per serving (ORAC values)…Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals — unstable molecules linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically the anthocyanins that give the fruit its blue hue, are the major contributors to antioxidant antioxidant activity5.
I’m able to enjoy a really good blueberry in the organic frozen version I get at my local Kroger store, but it does pale a bit in comparison to the fresh picked kind.
I’ve enjoyed blueberries picked fresh and cooked into pancakes at the Migis Lodge, Lake Sebago, ME, where I waited on tables one summer during college. Those were smaller, wild and very nice. My hostess made some wonderful blueberry pancakes for all of us over the holiday of July 4th, which were quite delightful and additionally had homemade and homegrown maple syrup. All good. I’d always definitely prefer maple syrup right from the maple tree with them.
Another wild berry I enjoyed was picked from bushes I found to my surprise, while climbing Old Rag Mountain in Virginia’s Appalachian Mountain foothills. Those were a favorite, but being really thirsty and hot might have had something to do with their superior qualities, too.
I snuck off with a piece of blueberry pie once, too, and got chased by the cafeteria worker who’d snitched it first, as well. That will remain a hidden secret just among us. (In the kitchen, by the dark-tongued sophomore, with a serving tray.)
You don’t have to go to Michigan for the blueberries, but I highly recommend it. Of course, some Mainers may quarrel with me on this.