Maine’s state berry isn’t the wild blueberry for nothing. With an annual crop valued at more than $75 million, wild blueberries are as iconic to Maine as lobsters and rocky coastline. “Maine’s 60,000 acres of wild blueberries grow naturally in fields and barrens that stretch along the Downeast coast to the state’s southwest corner,” according to the University of Maine. International students in Maine can get in on the blueness by attending some of Maine’s blueberry festivals or take a day trip to pick them from a field.
Centuries ago, Native American’s were the first to use Maine’s wild blueberries. The used them, both fresh and dried. Native Americans ate them, made tea from their roots and used blueberry syrup for coughs. Maine’s wild blueberries were first harvested commercially in the 1840s.
Now, Maine produces 99 percent of all the blueberries in the United States, making it the single largest producer of blueberries in the United States. Maine is also the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world.
Blueberries contain more antioxidants per serving compared with 20 other fruits including raspberries, cranberries, plums, and strawberries. Antioxidants are useful in preventing cancer, aging and heart disease.
International students in Maine can easily get a taste for the blueberry culture. Every year for 37 years in Machias, a Wild Blueberry Festival takes place. Over 250 vendors sell arts, crafts, food and more. There is live music, a parade, raffles, contests and of course, a blueberry pie eating contest. There are many farms in Maine where visitors can venture into the fields and pick their own wild blueberries. And not just blueberries are available at these farms. A plethora of fruits and vegetable are also available at many of these farms. Don’t forget to ask your hosts for a recipe for blueberry pie.