Besides tasting fabulous as you pick, bake, cook, or can them, blueberries are a crucial crop in the Washington county economy.
One of the largest counties east of the Mississippi River, Washington county (or the Sunrise county), produces 90% of the nation’s blueberry crop! Blueberry barrens (where the wild blueberry grows) have sandy soil and were formed by glaciers. These ideal soil conditions are perfect for growing wild, lowbush blueberries.
With nearly a quarter million acres of barrens and an average of 30 million pounds of blueberries produced annually, the local economy gets a boost from this valuable crop. The growing, harvesting and processing of the fruit adds jobs and money to the county. Many people and businesses rely on this little fruit in order to pay their mortgage and put food on the table. In addition, all the blueberries are canned within the county, adding an extra benefit.
Health benefits abound from the blueberry. With a diverse range of micronutrients, the blueberry has essential dietary mineral manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fiber. The wild species, especially, contain anthocyanins, other antioxidant pigments and various phytochemicals that could possibly having a role in reducing risks of some diseases, including inflammation and certain cancers.
And last, but not least, if you enjoy the blueberry (who doesn’t?), then the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival is a perfect stop in the summer. With music, exhibits, and blueberry culinary dishes, the festival is the premier festival devoted the blue fruit. Be there early to try some blueberry pancakes!