Google+

(Wild) Blueberry Fields Forever

Hi friends!

I had the pleasure of spending Wednesday through Saturday of last week up in Maine with the Wild Blueberry Association of North America.

wild blueberry field

Joining me on the trip were fellow dietitians and nutrition bloggers/writers, as well as a number of staff from the Wild Blueberry Association and its PR firm. It was a really great group – I loved chatting with everyone throughout the trip!

IMG_6138

Writers/RDs in attendance:

IMG_6136

We spent our time in Maine learning all about wild blueberries. Wild blueberries like cool, wet weather, so they stick to the north; the only places where wild blueberries are harvested commercially are Maine, Eastern Canada, and Quebec. Maine is actually the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world! Wild blueberries as far as the eyes can see. :)

IMG_6135

Wild blueberries occur naturally in barrens and fields that have been around for 10,000 years, so they are very well adapted to the cold, harsh winters. We learned that all the snow actually acts as a blanket for the wild blueberry bushes, which are very low to the ground for a reason!

IMG_6153

Wild blueberries are grown on 60,000 acres in Maine, and six companies operate processing plants that freeze and can the berries; one company also distributes fresh wild blueberries. 99% of the crop is frozen – this is because wild blueberries naturally have less tough skin, so they are harder to transport fresh than regular blueberries. We weren’t allowed to take any photographs inside the processing plant we toured (Wyman’s of Maine – the brand that I buy at Whole Foods!), but it was really interesting to see how they are cleaned and flash frozen within 24 hours of being picked at peak ripeness.

IMG_6154

Most wild blueberry fields are pruned to the ground every other year, and in the growing season immediately following the pruning, the vegetative and formative growth take place. In May of the following year the plants bloom, are cross pollinated (yay bees!), and will then develop berries, which ripen in late July to early August.

Once ripe, lowbush blueberries are harvested by a combination of hand-raking and mechanical raking; mechanical raking is used on about 80% of the fields in Maine, with hand-raking used in rocky or hilly areas that are too complex to mechanically rake.

IMG_6155

We learned how to rake the blueberries by hand and I have a lot of respect for the blueberry rakers – it’s really hard work!

IMG_6143

IMG_6145

We also learned quite a bit about the differences between wild and regular blueberries on the trip. Did you know that wild blueberries have two times the antioxidants and fiber of regular blueberries? The reason for more fiber is due to the higher skin-to-pulp ratio than their larger cultivated counterparts. As for the antioxidants, they have a higher concentration of the flavonoid anthocyanin, a phytochemical found in blue-pigmented fruit.

IMG_6140

They are much more flavorful, too! I made sure to confirm this fact myself… :)

IMG_6164

On the pest management front, since wild blueberries thrive in glacial soils and harsh climates, you have the added benefit of decreased insects and pests compared to regular blueberries in warmer climates. Also, since wild blueberries are harvested every other year, this helps to break the pest cycles as well.

Aside from all the wild blueberry talk, we were also able to enjoy beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine. The Wild Blueberry Association put us up at the Bar Harbor Inn, a really cute place that had amazing views of the water.

IMG_6199

I got in two nice runs along the waterfront path in front of the inn. Stunning!

20140816_064621

20140814_170934

20140814_171414

On the food front, one of the nights we were treated to dinner at Havana, which was fabulous – great food and super cute place. I didn’t get any photos since the lighting was dim, but highly recommend it! Also, Martha Stewart was at the next table – apparently she has a home in the area?! So cool!

Another night, we took a ferry over to Cranberry Island for dinner at a cute lobster place on the dock.

IMG_6187

IMG_6188

IMG_6191

Made it!

IMG_6190

We started with some yummy salads…

IMG_6193

Then it was down to business.

IMG_6194

Lobstah!!

maine_lobster

Wild blueberry crisp for dessert. :)

IMG_6195

Also, guess who walked in while we were eating our salads? MARTHA STEWART! Again! Jeez, Martha, quit stalking us already! ;) What a weird coincidence!

On my last morning, before heading to the airport, I got up for another run…

IMG_6148

And then Gretchen and I walked in to town to get some breakfast at a place we’d heard was really good: Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast.

IMG_6198

I enjoyed a feta, olive, tomato, avocado, and spinach omelette with some tasty homemade oatmeal bread, fresh jam, and fruit. Plus great conversation. :)

IMG_6197

A big thank you to the Wild Blueberry Association for inviting me on their press trip and covering my expenses! It was so fun to see the barrens in person, and I had a great time with the group, too. :)

I got back in DC on Saturday early afternoon and spent the rest of the weekend enjoying being home with Matt and getting caught back up on life! Lots to do this week. Better get back to it!

Have you ever eaten a wild blueberry?

What’s the coolest celeb sighting you’ve had?

Comments

  1. 1

    My parents absolutely love Maine! I’ll have to recommend this inn and the restaurants for their next trip! Also, I’ve seen Martha Stewart a few times on flights or around NYC. She’s a character. :)

  2. 2

    Wow Anne, when I grow up I want to be just like you hah!

    Sounds like a super fun time. I’ve never done wild blueberry pickin’–it’s cool to hear the difference between blueberries though.

    I love the lobster picture–that sucker was huge! It must be interesting going out to eat w friends vs dietitian friends–do you see much of a difference in how you eat when you are around more health conscious peeps?

    Keep rockin! Take care!

    • 3

      Nah, no difference! I’m big on intuitive eating, so I go with what I feel like and don’t let what others are doing influence me. If anything, I probably had MORE dessert on this trip vs. other ones, just because we had set menus so dessert was always included.

  3. 4

    looks like such a fun trip! also, your omelet looks like a smiley face with olive eyeballs. :)

  4. 6

    Haha, raking blueberries by hand, that’s awesome! Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits! So sweet and perfect!

  5. 7

    Looks awesome! Makes me miss New England!

  6. 8

    I love wild blueberries. They were a recent Trader Joe’s discovery. Looks like a fun experience!

  7. 9

    That looks like it was such a fun experience! I love blueberries and always get bummed when they’re no longer in season and tough to find at the market.

  8. 10

    Wow! She is quite the celeb in my eyes! Pierce Brosnan was prob the most exciting! He was filming here in Ireland. I bet those blueberries were incredible! Hope you go to take some home! Nothing better than picking you’re own fruit!

  9. 11

    I don’t think I ever have had a wild blueberry. Maybe in things but not raw. Looks delicious though!

  10. 12

    So funny that Martha was “stalking” you! I think my best celeb sighting was when I was a kid and a movie w/ Gregory Peck in it was being filmed near our house. We went down to the film site and during a break he came over and chatted and gave us all autographs. These days I am so clueless about celebrities I could probably walk past someone “big” on the street and not even realize!

  11. 13

    I LOVE blueberries!! I just bought a huge bag of organic wild blueberries from Costco. Delicious! Crazy how old those fields are, wow.

  12. 14

    It was SO fun getting to spend time with you in Maine. Can’t wait for Cali! See you soon :-)

  13. 16

    Those blueberries look out of this world delish!

  14. 17

    I had no idea there was a difference between wild and regular blueberries. Thanks for the info-looks like a fun trip!

  15. 18

    I think I’ve ever only eaten wild blueberries! We buy them in 10lb boxes and freeze them for the winter. I love putting the frozen berries in my hot oatmeal. I can’t imagine raking blueberries – back breaking!

    Did you fall in love with Bar Harbor? We go every summer, but I’ve never done that path for running. Definitely trying that next time. Thanks for sharing and the tips for Martha Stewart sightings!

  16. 20

    I live in Maine and love wild blueberries! I’ve been trying to decide if I should sign up for the Mount Desert Island marathon; your photos are inspiring me!
    I saw you and the Cabot Fit Team last year at Beach to Beacon! That was a fun celebrity sighting!

  17. 22

    Cool, Martha! I’m from New Brunswick, next door neighbors to Maine :) We have a ton of wild blueberries too and they are absolutely amazing! Craving them right now….

  18. 23
    Roadrunner says:

    What a neat experience! Well done -

  19. 24

    Loved meeting you in Maine and hanging out with you! I miss all those wild blueberries! So fun. Can’t wait to see you in Vermont next month :)

  20. 26

    What a fun trip!!! Blueberries! Yum! I don’t know if I’ve ever had a wild one because I just eat them so fast, I’m not sure what they are. :) Coolest sighting – Dakota Fanning in Mexico City! Glad you’re baack friend!

  21. 27

    Gwyneth Paltrow walked in on my boyfriend in the bathroom once. His company was consulting on the set of one of her movies. Priceless!!

  22. 29

    This reminded me of my favorite book as a kid called “Blueberries For Sal” which takes place in Maine. And perfect timing with my post about Lobster on the Stone Soup blog for Food & Nutrition!
    Fellow RD sending some love. Glad I found your blog!

  23. 31

    what a great few days and lovely surroundings. i’ll never forget it… and so enjoyed spending the morning with you on saturday! can’t wait to see you again so soon!

  24. 33

    OMG!!!! I was there too! And at one point I actually thought I saw you in the town but I questioned myself and said NAH it can’t be her! AHH!!! I could’ve met you in person! I’m so upset haha

  25. 35

    wow what an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing.. all your pictures are amazing

  26. 36

    I spend 2 weeks in Bar Harbor every June and have never seen Martha Stewart. great trip you had, I love Jeannie’s. I could live on the oatmeal bread and strawberry rhubarb jam.

Speak Your Mind

*

Current ye@r *