Maine is known as one of the most healthful states in the nation, and perhaps it’s the blueberry, Maine’s official state berry, to thank in large part. Native Americans valued wild blueberries for their nutritional and healing qualities long before European settlers arrived in North America; they encouraged their growth, gathering and eating them in season and drying them for use in winter.
Early settlers also cherished blueberries as a staple ingredient in foods and medicines. The first cultivated highbush blueberries were transplanted from the wild. Highbush berries are larger, growing on bushes that are 4-8 feet tall, and are relatively simple to choose by hand.
The wild blueberry holds a special place in Maine’s agricultural history, first being harvested commercially from the 1840s. Both wild and cultivated types are now thriving industries in the state; Maine produces 99% of all the blueberries in the country, making it the single largest producer of blueberries in the USA and the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world.
They thrive in the naturally acid, low-fertility soils; cool, moist sea air; and challenging winters; and, since they’re native to Maine, are naturally resistant to many native pests. Several varieties ripen at different times throughout the summer, and will often remain ripe into early autumn. Wild blueberries require minimal control and are sweet and irresistibly delicious.
Today blueberries are one of Maine’s most important agricultural crops, making a contribution to the state’s economy to the tune of more than $75 million annually. Moreover, thanks to new knowledge about the health and nutritional advantages of blueberries, there’s a growing demand for both fresh and processed wild blueberries in the U.S. and abroad.
According to wildlife nuisance removal service Wild Maine Blueberries,”For great taste and antioxidant power, there is no better option than a daily dose of wild blueberries. 1 half cup of wild blueberries delivers as much antioxidant power as four servings of additional antioxidant produce. And there’s more good news: that the FDA has concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and may even keep their nutritional value more.”
Thank you, Maine, for yet another contribution to the quality of life in America–Maine blueberries.