We’ve been thinking about the arrival of Earth Day and the opportunity it affords us to celebrate the biodiversity of our Big Blue Planet. As we contemplated the sustainability of the Wild Blueberry, we called on expert David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with the Maine Cooperative Extension and professor of horticulture at the University of Maine, where he has worked for the past 35 years. David knows everything there is to know about Wild Blueberries and he was quick to explain the many reasons why Wild Blueberries are the most earth-friendly food on the planet.
#1. Wild Blueberries occur naturally in nature. Wild Blueberries have been here for 10,000 years and we expect them to be here for another 10,000 years. “They were in Maine before man arrived and they likely will be here after we are gone,” says David with a chuckle. As a result, they are completely sustainable in the original sense of the word and perfectly adapted to the environment where they grow.
#2. Wild Blueberries are used to a stressful environment. You and I might complain about the cold winters of Maine and Canada, but Wild Blueberries thrive in this harsh climate. Cold temperatures also have the benefit of naturally reducing insects and pests. As you move south into hotter regions where cultivated blueberries are grown, you see an increase in pest pressures. With more pest pressure you increase the reliance on pesticides and agrochemicals.
#3. Wild Blueberries offer unmatched genetic diversity. According to David, “diversity is the key to nature,” and Wild Blueberries are diversity superstars. Because the plants naturally establish by themselves, any given Wild Blueberry field can sport literally hundreds of thousands of different plants, as compared to cultivated blueberries, which might host a half-dozen varieties in one growing area. In Maine specifically, every particular variety is genetically different from the plant next to it. Maine’s Wild Blueberry fields have this great mixture of literally thousands of varieties of dark and light berries, says Dave. “That’s what gives them that complex and delicious flavor. There’s no homogeneity here.”
So, as you prepare to commemorate Earth Day – and we hope you will – be sure to Get Wild and add some Wild Blueberries to your breakfast smoothie, a salad at lunch or try using blueberries in a special Earth Day Dinner. Because of the sustainability of this 10,000-year-old naturally growing plant, you’ll feel good about enjoying these little wonders, with double the antioxidants and loads of intense flavor.