Blueberries are one of the few fruits that are native to North America and In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries. The US cultivates around half of all global consumption of blueberries with another 30% from Canada. Maine produces around 25% of all US cultivation of blueberries.
Cultivation of blueberries was widespread among the Native American tribes throughout North America. European colonists learned about blueberries thanks to these Native American traditions and brought blueberry species back to Europe. Yet commercial cultivation of blueberries in Europe has been a relatively recent phenomenon limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. Thanks to increasing cultivation in the Southern Hemisphere — including South American countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay as well South Africa, New Zealand and Australia — fresh blueberries are now enjoyed throughout the year on many of the world’s continents.
One interesting current trend in history of blueberries has been their dramatically increased consumption within the U.S. In 1997, the average U.S. adult consumed about 13 ounces of blueberries per year. Ten years later, in 2007, that amount nearly doubled and reached an average level of 22 ounces.
There are plenty of myths about eating blueberries but there is little doubt of one fact that simply they are good for you. They have one of the highest antioxidant capacities amongst all fruit. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin K. They also contain vitamin C, fibre, manganese and other antioxidants (notably anthocyanins). Valued for its high levels of antioxidants, some nutritionists believe that if you make only one change to your diet, it should be to add blueberries.A number of clinical studies have tried to prove that eating blueberries reduces cancer rates, heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular disorders. Also helpful is that we can freeze blueberries without doing damage to their delicate anthocyanin antioxidants|.
To prove a huge health benefit such a reduction in deaths or longer life expectancy might be difficult in a trial situation as all these illnesses have multiple causes. But will you live longer if you eat blueberries? Probably yes you will.
A visit to Barcelona is never without surprises. And in many ways this time it was the food. There are some basic facts about eating out in Spain in general that need understanding. Mainly that food is never served as hot as it is for example in UK. Lets run through my three meals. Breakfast is the same as anywhere, but the fruit quality is the best. fresh Kiwi tasting like it had been picked a few minutes ago and Oranges that tasted like …Oranges.
Lunch was an interesting affair too. The lunch kitchens do not open until 1pm. So realistically eating till 1.30 pm is fairly complex. The Catalan specials include great meats of course but also Catalan sausage served with white beans. For dinner curiously I had a Spanish omelette which was served with bread covered in a thin layer of tomato, not tomato sauce. The story is something like this that the Catalan dishes are basically the food for the poor from 100 years ago when vegetables like tomatoes were cheap. dishes are also renowned for mixing sweet and savoury foods.
Catalan dishes rely heavily on ingredients popular along the Mediterranean coast, including fresh vegetables (especially tomato, garlic, eggplant (aubergine), capsicum, and artichoke), wheat products (bread, pasta), Arbequina olive oils, wines, legumes (beans, chickpeas).
The traditional Catalan cuisine is quite diverse, ranging from pork dishes cooked in the inland part of the region to fish recipes along the coast.
The few little things that we have grown in the garden this year have actually tasted great, although not exactly kilograms of them. We have a Strawberry plant that has lived outside through snow and whatever weather is thrown at us, and produces happily each year. Today I found a last strawberry hidden away on the plant.
It is all rather silly really but we do try and grow a few things in the garden and are spectacularly pleased when this proves successful. We have a Strawberry plant which gives fruit each year and we do battle with the squirrels to get the fruit before they do, a Redcurrant tree/bush which for some bizarre reason has provided one string of reducrrants this year and some potato sacks. Today we picked our potatoes and there was a nice crop. Furthermore they tasted delicious. So although there is no chance of us going into competition with Tesco, it is a little bit of fun and we can eat the rewards! The real problem we have comes from the squirrels but also I suspect the urban foxes of which we have many culprits.
One good thing about having an 11 year old is that they constantly surprise you. For example I would never have surmised that baking would become an integral hobby for her and certainly not so young. Monday night we were treated to cheese and onion pasties of a decent standard and yesterday a large Caramel Cake was born. It is now half eaten and delicious. Another strange happening is that our strawberry plant , about 3 years old, and producing fruit until nov 25th , is still growing leaves. This is despite frost and cold temperatures. Curious. I dont know much about these plants but growth in December and January must be a little unusual.