This article from NPR brought up several interesting issues surrounding berry harvest, including migrant workers, domestication of wild plants, and changes in worldwide demand for healthy fruits.
It seems that wild berries in Alaska are harvested more for subsistence than commercial ventures, but that isn’t quite so in scandinavian countries. Apparently the demand for wild berry products, both fresh and processed, is fueling more harvest and the labor is being filled with many migrant workers.
What are factors that have made berry products such an important commercial industry in Scandinavia? I would think that investment in infrastructure would be a major factor, supported by nearby markets that have a high demand for healthy wild berries. Everyman’s Right likely plays a role too.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is one species that is highly sought after in scandinavian countries, and increasingly asian countries, with seemingly good reason. It is high in antioxidants, with an ORAC score of 706 (Brunswick Laboratories) for dried fruit. For comparison, our native blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) has a score of 420. A higher score denotes higher potential antioxidant activity.