Maine is recognized as one of the most healthful states in the nation, and perhaps it has 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 easy to pick by hand. In the wild, they prefer wet, boggy habitats.
The wild lowbush blueberry is usually 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 history, 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 United States 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 soils; cool, moist sea air; and challenging winters; and, because they are indigenous to Maine, are naturally resistant to many native pests. Several varieties ripen at different times throughout the summer, and will often stay ripe right into early autumn. Wild blueberries require minimal management 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 benefits of blueberries, there is 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's no better choice than a daily dose of wild blueberries. One half cup of wild blueberries delivers as much antioxidant power as four servings of other antioxidant fruits and vegetables. And there's more good news: the FDA has concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and may even retain their nutritional value longer.
".Thank you, Maine, for yet another contribution to the quality of life in America--Maine blueberries.Lisa J. Lehr © 2006..
Lisa J. Lehr is a freelance writer and Internet marketer specializing in direct response and marketing collateral. She holds a biology degree and has worked in a variety of fields, including the pharmaceutical industry and teaching, and has a particular interest in health, pets, and conservative issues.
Please visit her blog at http://mymaine.
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By: Lisa J. Lehr