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July is National Blueberry Month, and Naples, FL-based Naturipe Farms, one of the larger producers of fresh blueberries globally, is celebrating fresh blueberries as an ideal "hero" with which to mark America's independence.

A true native American species, fresh blueberries grown by family farmers in 38 states are both a healthful and delicious fruit. July is peak season for American blueberries and a prime time to delight in these little wonders. Fresh blueberries are now a staple on the American table. No longer a specialty item, fresh blueberries continue to increase in per capita consumption (14.7 ounces per person in 2008) as consumer awareness for their health benefits and convenience has grown.

To help spread the word during National Blueberry Month, Naturipe Farms is conducting a national blueberry display contest for retailers large and small. Entrants can submit photos of blueberry displays 16 square feet or larger, garnering extra points for creativity and cross-merchandising combinations. The grand-prize winner will receive airfare, hotel and entry to the Produce Marketing Association's 2009 Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA.

Blueberries add color, flavor and nutrition to any meal or snack. They are easy to use and require no preparation; they are a great solution for busy families. Studies link the consumption of berries, especially blueberries, to a longer, healthier life. Antioxidants, anthocyanins, elagitannins and polyphenols play a vital role in fighting disease and improving overall health.

Blueberries are harvested from mid-March through early October in North America, with harvest reaching its peak in July.