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.
Early settlers also cherished blueberries as a staple ingredient in foods and medications. The first cultivated highbush blueberries were transplanted in the wild. The wild lowbush blueberry is generally harvested with a blueberry rake, which was invented by a Mainer, Abijah Tabbut, in 1822.
The wild blueberry holds a special place in Maine’s agricultural background, first being harvested commercially in 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.
In the U.S., wild Maine blueberries are unique to a 60,000-acre area, growing naturally in fields and barrens across eastern Maine. They thrive in the naturally acid, low-fertility lands; cool, moist sea air; and hard winters; and, since they’re indigenous to Maine, are naturally resistant to a lot of native pests. Several varieties ripen at different times during the summer, and will often stay ripe into early autumn. Wild blueberries require minimal control and are sweet and irresistibly delicious.
Nowadays blueberries are one of Maine’s most important agricultural plants, making a contribution to the state’s economy to the tune of over $75 million annually. Moreover, thanks to new understanding about the health and nutritional benefits of blueberries, there’s a growing demand for both fresh and processed wild blueberries in the U.S. and abroad.
According to Allen’s 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 other antioxidant fruits and vegetables. And there is more good news: that the FDA has concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables are only as healthy as fresh and might even retain their nutritional value longer.”