It’s a fine time to gather a natural superfood, and also confront the harsh realities facing farmworkers. by Matt Baume
Yes, the world is in a terrible tumult right now, with disaster around every corner. Every waking moment carries the risk of receiving some new horror, which is why there’s never been a more vital time to turn your cellphone off and wander out into a field with a wicker basket and a hunger for blueberry pie.
The entire state of Washington is in the middle of a robust blueberry-picking season, and if that sounds like terribly mundane news, you’re right it is and you’re welcome, isn’t it nice to have news that is mundane instead of horrifying? There’s a ton of blueberry farms open for business right now, not to mention a blueberry recipe contest currently underway, and an urgent need to escape from all your woes.
If it’s a farm-fresh experience you’re after, good news: Washington, as the country’s leading blueberry producer, has a whole “u-pick farms” locator that can pinpoint the closest field awaiting your grubby little hands. Vashon Island has a patch that’s ready for picking, and the ferry ride over is a very pleasant way to start a weekend trip. (I personally recommend an overnight stay on the island if you can swing it, and bring a bike.) There’s also Larsen Lake in Bellevue, as well as Mercer Slough — and you know I can’t resist a good slough.
Meanwhile, the Washington State Blueberry Commission, which I imagine is led by Violet Beauregard, is running a kids’ recipe contest. (Kids famously love recipes.) It’s open to youngsters ages 12 to 18, and requires the submission of a recipe along with a photo of the dish. The winner will receive a flat of fresh berries, a mention on social media, and a claim to fame that will allow them to easily win the next game of “two truths and a lie about me” that they play.
And if you’ve truly got blueberry fever, you might spend some time reading up on some fun blueberry facts. Like did you know that blueberries were first cultivated for sale around 1916? That’s much later than I would have thought. And did you know that blueberry-pickers are astoundingly underpaid and can make as little as a few dollars for each gallon of berries they harvest while performing back-breaking skilled labor in sweltering heat?
Oh. Oh no. Well, apparently even the idyllic blueberry lifestyle is inextricably intertwined in the terrible news of this modern life, and there is simply no escape from the harsh realities that confront us wherever we go. Sorry, everyone.