They often say big things come in small packages. That is the case for the highbush blueberry, a fruit that is only small in stature. July is National Blueberry Month and people all over the world are busy enjoying blueberry-inspired fruit salads, smoothies, and other refreshing foods. In addition to this month-long celebration, blueberry fans have another reason to get excited – the 100th anniversary of commercial blueberries.
The blueberry’s journey from farm to table began in 1916 in Whitesbog, N.J., when Elizabeth White teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to go against conventional wisdom and breed a variety of wild blueberries to be sold on the market. The blueberry’s 100-year history contains many milestones. This includes being named the official state berry of New Jersey, an iconic appearance in the classic Willy Wonka movie, and being planted in the White House kitchen garden.
All of us here at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) are excited to help the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council – one of the industry research and promotion programs that we oversee – celebrate the accomplishments of these little blue dynamos. Part of our celebration took place at the USDA Farmers Market in Washington, D.C., where our vendors featured blueberry products throughout the entire month. From blueberry-flavored pizzas to dipping sauces, market visitors had plenty of chances to get their blueberry fix. There even was blueberry-flavored ice cream.
There are plenty of ways to celebrate the blueberry’s 100th birthday. If you live in D.C., N.Y. City, Boston, or Atlanta, you can find blueberries on the menus of several popular museum cafés. The Council’s site also has a list of summer blueberry festivals, creative recipes, and cooking tips. We encourage you to follow the conversation about the birthday celebration by using the #100YearsofGrowin hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
All of us here at USDA congratulate the blueberry on a successful 100 years and can’t wait to see what is in store for the next 100 years.