Fifty shades of blue 

Take your pick from our local blueberry kingdom

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They can improve your eyesight, fix an upset stomach and deliver one of the finest summer treats on the planet.

Blueberries might be one of the most righteous farm products our province produces, and that should make us all very happy — especially if you live in Sea to Sky country and want to eat as locally and tastily as you can. You'd be hard pressed to find a more delicious, more versatile, healthier local summer fruit (I'll arm wrestle the raspberry lovers later over that one).

B.C. is a giant in the blueberry department. We have more than 800 growers pumping out some 55 million kilograms annually — about 50 per cent more than just a few years ago.

The industry primarily relies on high-bush varieties that were originally hybridized in New Jersey, not the local wild varieties of Vaccinium. In fact, B.C has become the No. 1 high-bush blueberry producer in the world, in no small part due to an effective marketing board.

Blueberries are too good and easy. Grab a handful, run them under the tap and pop them into your mouth for a snack. Grab another handful and toss them into your muffin or pancake batter or onto your cereal or yogurt (We'll get to the pies later).

If you're still buying that blueberry-flavored commercial yogurt, forget it! Find a plain brand you like. How about Olympic's organic plain yogurt, which uses milk from those beautiful Holsteins raised up in Pemberton Valley? Throw in a bunch of blueberries and sweeten the whole thing with good honey.

When it comes to honey, blow all your preconceived notions about it out of the water with the fresh — the very fresh — blueberry honey from Jane's Honeybees. You can pick it up at farmers' markets from Whistler to Steveston (www.janeshoneybees.com).

Owner Liz Graham, who named Jane's Honeybees after her mom, rents out her hives to farmers all over the Lower Mainland, from Richmond to Abbotsford. That includes blueberry farmers, so you'll be eating blueberry honey made by bees that pollinated the flowers that made the blueberries you may well be eating with your blueberry honey. Cosmic serendipity!

If you want to blow away everything you ever thought you knew about blueberry juice, try another local product that's out of this world. Bremner juices are made right on the delta of the mighty Fraser River. Next time you drive Highway 99 south to White Rock or the U.S. border, look for the quaint two-storey farmhouse on the right side of the highway as you approach Mud Bay. You'll recognize it instantly because Bremner juice labels sport an image of that old farmhouse.

The Bremner farm was started in the 1950s by Stan Bremner, as a potato farm. Lucky for us, they planted their first blueberries in 1980. But it was son, Terry, who figured out how to make a blueberry juice that puts any other blueberry juice you've ever tasted to utter, despicable shame.

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