The Wild Difference: Celebrating Wild Foods Day All Month Long
Fall has officially arrived here in Maine, which means Wild Foods Day is right around the corner! Wild Foods Day is celebrated on October 28th., but we wanted to kick things off a little early so we can enjoy our favorite wild foods all month long! For thousands of years, humans have been foraging the land to collect and eat the naturally grown foods that Mother Earth provides for us. In celebration of Wild Foods Day, let’s discuss what makes wild blueberries, well…wild.
What classifies these little blue gems as *wild*?
Many people don’t know that there are two types of blueberries–cultivated (or ordinary) blueberries and wild blueberries. Our farmers don’t plant wild blueberries but nurture these naturally occurring berries where Mother Nature put them more than 10,000 years ago. They are just here. Wild blueberries actually germinate on their own and spread through an underground rhizome system. Because they are naturally occurring plants, this is what makes them truly “wild”!
The History of the Wild Blueberries
Wild blueberries emerged on the desolate plain which is now known as ‘The Barrens’ of Maine, Eastern Canada, and Quebec, following the retreat of the glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. These native berries thrive in extremely cold harsh conditions and have to protect themselves against environmental stressors. It’s the reason why wild blueberries have such a high anthocyanin content..Anthocyanins are the plant compounds found in the skin of the wild blueberry that give them their pretty purply blue hue. A growing body of research suggests anthocyanins work to reduce inflammation and are beneficial to humans. Wild blueberries have 33% more anthocyanins than ordinary blueberries—giving you a big leg up when it comes to keeping your brain and body running strong. According to the first documentation of their use, wild blueberries were first consumed both fresh and dried for their flavor, nutrition, and healing qualities. They have never been hybridized or genetically modified by humans to enhance or alter characteristics.
Instead, they modify completely on their own to make diverse and genetically different varieties of wild blueberries within every field. This diversity is what gives each wild blueberry a unique blend of intense and deliciously complex flavors–or as we like to call it the “blueberry-est flavor around.”
How Wild Blueberries Grow
Wild blueberries have an extensive underground rhizome system–as much as 70% of the plant actually lives underground–spreading horizontally in the few inches of organic matter atop the sand and gravel of glacial soil below. These berries are grown in two year cycles, and are pruned to help promote the health and fruitfulness of the plant. Once pruned, new stems sprout from the rhizome, grow, and form flower buds which turn into those little wild blueberries we all love! Because they grow in this way, they are only harvested during the late summer months each year. That’s why fresh wild blueberry season in Maine is a truly special time of year. Otherwise, you can buy frozen wild blueberries year round in the frozen foods aisle of your local grocery store (just make sure it says “wild” on the packaging).
Why Choose Wild Blues?
Choosing wild over ordinary blueberries is the way to go for many reasons, but our top five are because wild blueberries…
- Have a more intense blueberry flavor: Thousands of naturally occurring diverse plants in every field combine to create a potent and complex flavor ranging from tangy tartness to succulent sweetness that ordinary blueberries can’t match.
- Possess more Antioxidant Power: 33% more brain healthy anthocyanins and 2x the antioxidant capacity of ordinary blueberries makes wild blueberries the berry healthy bodies and brains crave.
- Are Smaller (with a stronger punch): Smaller wild blueberries offer a higher skin-to-pulp ratio; meaning less water and more antioxidant-rich pigments, more fiber, and more intense blueberry flavor per serving.
- Are Grown Wild and Local: As 1 of 3 native North American fruits, wild blueberries are never planted. They grow wild in the thin glacial soils and harsh northern climate of Maine – the very same place where Mother Nature put them more than 10,000 years ago.
- Are Frozen at Peak Freshness: Harvested at the peak of Maine summer, 99% of the wild blueberry crop is frozen fresh within 24 hours ensuring all the taste and health benefits are ready for you in the frozen fruit section of the grocery store.
Join us in celebrating Wild Foods Day a little early by trying some frozen wild blueberries! We promise they’ll dress up any meal or snack, or you can simply enjoy them as they were meant to be…frozen, delicious, and wild.
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