Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blueberries and Innovation, Bipolar USDA

The local Safeway has had blueberries for sale every day for the last year or 18 months, I think. I've seen berries from Chile (now), Mexico (earlier), North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, and Maine. And probably other sources. They aren't cheap, but considering the distance they have to travel, it's worth while.

I get the extension RSS feed, and have seen posts on blueberry cultivation in the South. They're reporting the results from experiment stations, and from the field  Extension is, of course, partially funded by USDA.  But there's also this announcement -- USDA is spending $16 million to buy wild blueberries for school lunch and food bank programs.

So on the one hand USDA is promoting the spread of blueberry culture through the US, while on the other hand it's encouraging wild blueberry growers, partially to mitigate downward price pressure.  What's the reason for the downward pressure: I assume it's the development of cultivated blueberries in the US and to the south.

Not sure what the locavores would make of this--wild blueberries are pretty regional.

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