LASATA: Celebrate National Blueberry Month in southwest Michigan

Blueberries are a delicious, nutritious, ubiquitous summer treat. It’s easy to take them for granted today, but it was not that long ago when blueberries could not be found in grocery stores. Wild blueberries vary in size and quality, but in 1910 they were cultivated for commercial sale and today are grown in most states, making the U.S. the world’s largest producer.

Michigan, of course, is one of those states. In fact, according to Michigan State University, blueberry growers in our state produce more than 100 million pounds of berries every year, valued at over $130 million — making our state a national leader in blueberry production. Southwest Michigan is fortunate to be home to several blueberry farms and you can see exactly where on this interactive map: https://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/fruits/blueberries.

July is National Blueberry Month, because this is the peak time of year when berries are harvested for sale and consumption. But we also recognize the incredible health benefits of blueberries. Did you know that no other berry packs more antioxidants than blueberries? Or that the anthocyanins that give blueberries their famous color also help reduce the risk of cancer? These nutrient dense wonders provide fiber for heart and digestive health, immune system boosting Vitamin C, plus Vitamin K, Manganese and Potassium — all in one low calorie serving.

If all of this has your mouth watering for a handful, you’re in luck, as blueberry farms in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties feature u-pick options for families to go and harvest to their hearts content. Check out https://www.pickyourown.org/MIsouthwest.htm to find a local u-pick farm near you.

And once you get home, if you’re looking for ways to incorporate blueberries into your diet, there are loads of free recipes, including pies, muffins, breads, salads, kebabs, entrée options and even beverages. Be sure to check out https://blueberry.org/recipes/ to find your new favorite.

No matter how you enjoy your blueberries, southwest Michigan is the place to be, and July is the month to enjoy them.

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