Remember Fats Domino and “I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill”? He was crooning about “love’s sweet melody.” My thrill was found on Maine blueberry hills when summers found me with my mom raking wild blueberries as my grandmother watched. We took care of gramma every summer so this was a familiar routine. She was a champ at picking our stray leaves and stems after winnowing. Raking was hard work, but the rewards were found in my full bucket and later in toothsome blueberry pie.
The United States is the world’s largest producer of blueberries. Maine is the sole commercial producer of wild blueberries in the United States. They were first cultivated for sale in 1916. Blueberry farmers have faced some tough times. Trade deficits, reduced prices, climate change, and challenges with federal support are among some of the challenges. In 2018, Maine farmers processed 50.4 million pounds, which was down from 17 million pounds from 2017 in protest of reduced prices. Some farmers have left the business entirely, as has a Wilton farmer where we picked blueberries regularly. In fact, as one of the first foods I could eat when recovering from a health issue, we picked buckets full of fresh berries every day.
Blueberries are a favorite fruit for many people and one that has been used in nearly every food product imaginable. The results of an informal survey locally found that blueberry pie and blueberry pancakes topped the list of favorite blueberry dishes. My favorite is straight out of a bucket of fresh-picked!
Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, blueberries help reduce inflammation in the gut, which helps our whole body to run more efficiently. They also help to support our cardiovascular system, provide a defense against cancer, and studies suggest may help prevent memory loss. There is a pack of powerful nutrients in one cup. Coming in at a mere 84 calories, they are a significant source of Vitamin C (24% RDI), Vitamin K (36% RDI), and Manganese (25% RDI).
Frozen or fresh, Maine blueberries make for a healthy way to boost our health status all year.


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