A massive amount of care goes into the production of each tiny blueberry.
Canada’s second-largest fruit crop (after apples), blueberries are grown in 2 varieties – wild (‘lowbush’), grown for more than 13,000 years, and cultivated (‘highbush’). New plants of both varieties need 2 years to bear fruit, then 2 more years to reach full production. The berries themselves take 5 to 7 months to ripen. Throughout, farmers are busy pruning, weeding, fertilizing, protecting the plants from pests, birds and disease – even bringing in beehives to encourage pollination. At harvest, timing is critical: berries picked too early won’t continue to ripen; once harvested, they have a fleeting shelf-life.
For such a small fruit, the environmental impact adds up. Healthy plants require a lot of water and land. Producers use pesticides, machinery for harvesting and processing, plastic packaging, and refrigerated transport to get the berries to market. Thankfully, the bushes sequester a portion of those emissions, offsetting some of their carbon footprint.
The message from blueberry producers across Canada? Make every bite count.
Our A-Z Food Storage Guide will help you make them stay fresher for longer.
*This information on the journey of five foods was collected as part of a research project prepared for Love Food Hate Waste Canada with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change.