Huckleberry Fever in Asia and Finland
In the inland Pacific northwest, we think we have the corner on huckleberries. But there are other countries and areas that grow them and use them.
A few weeks ago, we were approached by Rae Ellen Bichell for information on Dr. Dan Barney’s huckleberry research. Here is excepts from her article on ‘huckleberry fever’:
Right now, some 7,000 Thai workers are combing the Lapland wilderness of Finland and Sweden for bilberries, lingonberries and cloudberries. Each day, they hike into the woods that lie mostly above the Arctic Circle with buckets and simple scooping tools, emerging with up to 270 pounds in berries per person….
Who’s so wild about these intensely flavored berries? Nordic folk load them into pies, jams, breakfast porridge and reindeer meatballs. They make ice cream, juice, and even shampoo out of them.
But there’s another group that’s increasingly driving this wild fruit harvest: health-conscious people in East Asia…
Labels on various lotions and potions sold in Asia — like this dark purple powder — make exaggerated claims that the berries improve night vision, make people smarter, and ward off cancer, obesity, ulcers and heart disease.
But there’s actual science showing that Finnish and Swedish bilberries are packed with more vitamins and antioxidants than North American blueberries. Lingonberries can help prevent urinary tract infections. Cloudberries, the most rare and expensive of the three, may boost intestinal flora and help prevent colon cancer. And, says Rainer Peltola, a senior research scientist at the Finnish Natural Resources Institute, “a berry-rich diet has been connected with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”…
The growing market pressure is leading to more discussion about how to develop a more dense and reliable crop farmers could control. And plant researchers and fruit companies are considering another possibility: cultivating the berries similarly to how lowbush, or wild, blueberries are cultivated in North America….