Blueberries

Lowbush blueberry fruit is rich in antioxidant compounds that fight free radicals that are associated with cancer, heart disease and premature aging and are high in vitamin C, manganese and fibre. Most of the lowbush blueberry crop is sent to processing plants to be frozen using Individually Quick Freezing (IQF) technology. The berries may then be sold frozen or further processed into products such as pies, yogurt, ice cream, jams and syrups. Less than 5% is sold fresh at local markets. (Source: AAFC Crop Profile for Lowbush Blueberry in Canada, 2011)

History

Lowbush blueberries were harvested by native peoples before European settlers arrived in North America. Some native peoples encouraged blueberry growth by periodically burning blueberry fields, which would quickly grow again with new plants. Early settlers in the Atlantic Provinces first harvested the fruit for their own use or for local distribution. Improvements in marketing and shipping and the establishment of canneries in Maine and along the Canada US border in the mid-1800s expanded the markets. Improved harvesting methods and management resulted in an expansion of production throughout the 20th century. Since the 1980s, production has increased dramatically because of advancements in management including improved weed control and the increased use of introduced bees for pollination.

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Scientific Name

Vaccinium angustifolium L. primarily