Monday, June 15, 2009

What is New Jersey's State Fruit?

Did you know that there are only three Native American fruits? They are the grape, bluebery and cranberry. All three grow in New Jersey.

New Jersey designated highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) as the official state fruit in 2003.

In the legislative declaration, they give you a good little history of the fruit in our state. (I deleted the other "whereas" along the way.)

Whereas, the highbush blueberry is indigenous to New Jersey, where it was first cultivated for commercial production, due to pioneering work by New Jerseyan Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Covile, who in the early 1900's dedicated themselves to the study, domestication, and breeding of blueberries at Whitesbog, in Browns Mills, New Jersey; and

The cultivation of highbush blueberries in New Jersey served as the basis for an entirely new agricultural industry.

Highbush blueberries close-up photo by Kingsbrae Garden
on Flickr noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike

Blueberries taste good, are good for you, are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, are sodium and cholesterol-free, are low in calories and provide medical and health benefits, including the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

They are appreciated around the world, especially in the area of nutrition and the emerging field of nutraceuticals, where blueberries are known for their health benefits and medicinal properties.

New Jersey ranks second in the nation in blueberry cultivation, producing 21% of the nation's total, with 38 million pounds grown annually on 8,000 acres, spanning seven counties in central and southern New Jersey. The state is widely recognized as the blueberry capital of the nation, and the highbush blueberry, also known as the "New Jersey blueberry," is the ideal symbol of a delicious, nutritious, and healthful fruit.

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