By using more ingredients that are sustainably sourced, such as wild blueberries, restaurants can appeal to these mission-driven diners. One big reason this tiny fruit is viewed as a sustainable choice is that as the name implies, wild blueberries are not planted by man, but grow wild in places like the Maine barrens.
“Wild blueberries have been here thousands of years,” says David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “The plants are there as nature intended, but we’re harvesting them, which is beneficial to the plants.”
The bushes are harvested using minimally disruptive methods before they are cut as close to the ground as possible, says Kathleen Hoffman, chef and national culinary manager with USF Kitchens. Then, after two years of regrowth they are harvested again, much the same as they were when they were being harvested in the area by Native Americans.
“I really see [wild blueberries] as a legacy edible,” Hoffman says. “These plants have been around on the planet for thousands of years. You’re able to harvest them very efficiently, in a very sustainable way that produces a clean product the way Mother Nature intended it to be.”