Freshly harvested blueberries - one of the joys of summer - are on the way and this year’s crop is looking bigger and better than ever. In fact, Oregon growers are expected to harvest more than 80 million pounds of blueberries this year, another production record. A bumper crop of fresh blueberries is good news for customers who have increasingly become aware of the advantages of buying local and buying fresh. While people tend to think of blueberries as simply a tasty summer treat, blueberries have been named the star of “Super Foods” for a healthy mind and body. It’s the Super Food designation that has driven blueberry production and sales increases in recent years. With such large production numbers, Oregon remains one of the top producing states in the nation. Fresh blueberries are a hot commodity these days for a lot of reasons with incredible taste, the highest quality and high nutritional value being just a few. Growers routinely realize the highest crop yields per acre compared to any other state, an estimated 10,000 pounds per acre in Oregon. Blueberry farms range from large operations that ship to both national and international buyers to small family farms with less than ten acres offering on-farm sales. Last year, Oregon growers produced 89.2 million pounds of blueberries, of which 37.2 million pounds were grown for the fresh market. Popular blueberry varieties include Berkeley, Bluetta, Bluejay, Bluecrop, Duke, Earliblue, Elliott, Jersey, Liberty, Powder Blue and Rubel. Blueberries Taste Great and Good for the Body: While blueberries may have advantages when it comes to taste and quality, it’s the international interest in nutrition and healthy eating that have fueled the growth. In general, blueberries are a very rich source of antioxidant phytonutrients. Antioxidants refer to the negative oxidation properties or compounds found in blueberries. Certain natural fruits and vegetables supply the body with chemicals which react against particularly harmful oxidants associated with elements (“free radicals”) which can damage a wide variety of functions and internal processes. Five-a-Day The Color Way: Just one-half cup of blueberries helps individuals meet the USDA’s recommended goal of five to nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables. The Five-a-Day The Color Way program suggests that to achieve optimal health benefits, people should choose colorful fruits and vegetables daily from each of the five color groups. Blueberries are a proud member of the blue/purple group. When it comes to taste and nutrition, blueberries are the true blue. Their sweet, fruity flavor has been enjoyed for years and now thanks to research going on in labs across the U.S. and Canada, there’s big news about the blues. These tasty little berries are, in fact, powerful disease fighters. Research shows that blueberries contain natural compounds that help a body stay healthy and may help prevent age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration and some forms of cancer. With only 40 fat-free calories per half cup, blueberries are also a great source of fiber and vitamin C. A serving of blueberries is a quick way to help meet the USDA’s recommendation of colorful fruits every day.