We Love Blue… Let Us Count the Ways

Fruit_Blueberries I. 5-2014BLUEand the BLUEBERRYMean and Do so much!

The color BLUE can “MEAN”Symbolize or Represent:  Sky, Sea, Air, Water, Cleanliness, Calmness, Tranquility, Stability, Integrity, Fidelity, Sincerity, Power, Success, Knowledge, Understanding, Healing, Contemplation, Faith, Trust, Virtue, Depth, Vastness, Sorrow...[No wonder it’s the color often associated with our Blessed MotherWoman Clothed with the Sun; Star of the Sea; Fountain Sealed; Virgin Most Pure, Most Faithful, Most Powerful; Our Lady of Peace; Our Lady of Victory; Our Lady of Good Counsel; All Fair and Immaculate; Health of the Sick; Ever Virgin; Full of Grace; Mother of Wisdom; Mother of God, our Mother; Our Lady of  Sorrows.]

 The color BLUE of the BLUEBERRY also can “DO”NOURISH with highly beneficial blue-related pigments packed with phytochemicals, particularly those known as anthocyanins—within the flavonoid family of the polyphenol clan—as well as other phytochemicals like resveratrol and phenolic acids (such as ellagic acid)… Very complex compounds capable of doing much good for the sake of health; well-respected for their ability to neutralize free radicals, bolster cells’ antioxidant defenses, battle inflammation, and act against microbes/bacterium that could otherwise cause disease.

So let us, then, acknowledge and appreciate the many talents & gifts [potential benefits] of this STAR” of the sea of berries…  Let us count its ways!

Fruit_Blueberries IV. 5-20141. ) Good to the Eyes:  potential to enhance night vision & overall sight; and to protect the retina from oxidative stress and UV radiation/sunlight damage.

2.)  Good to the Heart potential to relax blood vessels, strengthen capillaries, lower blood pressure, improve lipid/cholesterol profile, and discourage platelet formation.

3.)  Good to the Brain:  potential to enhance memory and reduce decline in cognitive & motor functioning associated with aging & various diseases.

4.)  Good to the whole Body:  potential to lower risk for  urinary tract infections, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and certain cancers (+); and to defend against inflammation, as well as exercise-induced oxidation; and may even support bone health.

Plus we can count on the blueberry for offering us its fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, potassium, and manganese, along with other nutrients too! 

So much to love!  And, so special is this lovely berry of blue, it is the official “State Fruit” of New Jersey (yay, Jersey!).  But why would Jersey care so much about blueberries?  Check it out

We can buy and enjoy blueberries today thanks to the efforts of two enthusiastic and enterprising individuals in the early 1900s. At the time, people didn’t think blueberries could be domesticated, but Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer, was determined to cultivate the highbush blueberry. She teamed up with Dr. Frederick Coville to identify wild blueberry plants with the most desirable properties, crossbreed the bushes and create vibrant new blueberry varieties. Colville and White produced the first commercial crop of blueberries out of Whitesbog, New Jersey in 1916.” U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Blueberries are actually indigenous to North America, and are estimated to be in existence now for more than 13,000 years, per the USHBC… The Native Americans enjoyed blueberries year-round, even drying them in the sun or crushing them into a powder.  Plus, within Native American folklore, stories were told of how “star berries” were sent to them by the Great Spirit in time of famine to ease the children’s hunger; and they had called blueberries “star berries” because of the “calyx” – the blossom at the end of each berry – which forms a five-pointed STAR there.  Special, indeed!

And peak season is upon us in North America, usually mid-June to mid-August (earliest harvest from southern states; latest harvest from northern states & Canada).… though, fresh North American blueberries can typically be found in our U.S. markets from April through October; from South America November through March.

“38 states [in the USA] produce blueberries commercially and six of them account for more than 90 percent of the highbush crop: Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, California, Georgia and Washington. In Canada, British Columbia is the primary producing region for highbush blueberries. Lowbush [“wild”] blueberries, used primarily in food processing, are grown in Maine and Eastern Canada.” −U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Highly versatile, too, they are—fitting in, on, & around breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack, & drink (!)—these stars of blue shine, alone or with other foods, worth saluting  Here are just of few examples of how… 8 Blueberry Recipe Ideas:

Fruit.BlueberryRecipe-AllAmericanChickenBlueberrySaladPlatter_USHBC Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Fruit Shake

All-American Chicken Blueberry Salad Platter

Wave The Flag Cupcakes

Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce

Dried Blueberry Granola And Yogurt Parfait With Fresh Blueberry And Mango “Salad”

Blueberry Margarita 

There is also a list available (via link) of some of the “U-Pick” blueberry farms by state—a directory provided as a service of the North American Blueberry Council (NABC), but call ahead & confirm before visiting farm.  Then, in honor of my home state of New Jersey, I chose to feature one of the Jersey farms (though I haven’t been there yet myself):  The DiMeo Organic Blueberry Farms & Blueberry Plant Nursery, in Hammonton, NJ.  “Organic” really caught my eye, especially considering that, according to the Environmental Working Group, domestic (non-organic) blueberries are not far from making the EWG “Dirty Dozen” list.  Domestic (U.S.) blueberries = Number “14”, while imported blueberries actually ranked better at Number “23” out of list of 51 [with more on that to come here soon].

And now, in closing, I decided to include the poem which inspired this post’s title for me since  I do love blue—and wanted to count the ways!  Enjoy.

How Do I Love Thee? [Sonnet 43] by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861):

“How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints.  I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.”

2014.The Way to Nourish for Life.   Photo credits:  Image for All-American Chicken Blueberry Salad Platter from USHBC; Two images above of blueberries alone are my own–Eileen Frank, RD.  Note:  Please refer to “About” The Way to Nourish for Life (see tab) for caveat.

Just for fun, this post is linked to Sunday Snippets−A Catholic Carnival

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