Bigger is Not Always Better

Imagine yourself camping in Northern Minnesota. You are on your way to the “bathroom” when you spot small bushes bursting with tiny blues that make your mouth water. You decide to skip the bathroom and pick these wild treasures before someone else in your party lays claim. These berries are small and take some effort to pick but they are worth every burst of sweet juice in your mouth.

If the recession has taught us anything, it is that the phrase, Bigger is Better, simply is not true. The same goes for blueberries.

The last two Thursdays, I have had the pleasure and the fortune to pick from the bountiful blueberry patch at Rush River Produce in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. If you are in need of some serious pounds of blueberries close to the Twin Cities, this is your place. Until our farm opens for business, of course. John and Terry, the owners and operators of Rush River Produce have been our mentors since Aaron and I had our initial conversations about blueberry farming. We have appreciated every moment and morsel of insight they have offered to us. We also are fortunate that we get to learn from their mistakes.

As I picked in the Northblues (a half-high variety) with my sister-in-law and her father, I overheard picker after picker comment, “Look at the size of those berries over there! I want to go over to there and pick the bigger berries [Patriots - high bush variety]. These berries are so much smaller than the others.” Eventually, I heard a wise person say, “You know, these berries are smaller than the others but they taste better and are more ripe.”  AH HUH! The golden ticket. The Northblues may not be as big as the Patriots, but they are more flavorful. And you are more likely to pick them ripe and therefore sweet. This concept is lost on many of us, myself included, when we see large berries sagging off a branch.

We’ve planted both Northblues and Patriots on our farm. The Patriots will have beautiful berries, some the size of quarters! The Northblues will take a little extra effort to pick because they are smaller, but they will be worth every burst of sweet juice in your mouth.