Blueberries are one of the hot functional foods right now. A functional food is a healthy food that has healthful or disease preventing properties beyond its basic nutrients. Research has shown blueberries are good sources of antioxidants.

“The market demand for blueberries is increasing globally for a number of reasons,” says Elina Coneva, a fruit horticulturist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Blueberries combine nutrient richness, antioxidant strength, evidence for health benefits and versatility for manufacturing an array of products.”

As demand for blueberries keeps increasing, Coneva, who is also an assistant professor at Auburn University, says so does the need for more people to grow them.

To promote both the production of blueberries and their nutritional value, specialists from Auburn University, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service collaborated to develop a new blueberry website www.eXtension.org/blueberries. The project is supported by a three-year, $518,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

“This website has several goals. But a primary goal is to introduce a new economic development opportunity for people,” said Natalie Hummel, LSU AgCenter Extension entomologist and the project leader for the new website.

It is part of the eXtension.org national website, which includes educational information on hundreds of topics posted by Extension specialists at land-grant universities across the country.