Have you noticed strawberries in the grocery store lately? Mostly from California, right? Yummy strawberries! They’re an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are important to boost the immune system. These include vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and vitamin K, manganese, potassium, folate, iodine, and dietary fiber. They also have antioxidants that are important to combat free radicals and prevent the development of cancer cells. Strawberries have properties that can improve brain health and slow down aging. Daily strawberry intake can enhance health because some of their minerals & vitamins can combat and treat diseases like constipation, flu, and high blood pressure. Physicians recommend the fruit to patients with gout, rheumatis, and catarrh. Strawberries can enhance gum health and eliminate tartar. Their low glycemic index makes them a good choice if you need to maintain low blood sugar levels.
On the other hand…did you know that they are some of the most pesticide laden foods you can eat? In fact, they are near the top of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” – one of the foods that are most important to buy organic. Here are both of their famous lists:
7. Bell Peppers
12. Imported Grapes
3. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet Peas
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon
While there are some growers trying to mass produce organically, most of those big, tasteless, California strawberries are full of all sorts of dangers (like toxic methyl bromide or methyl iodide).
So, when I notice the strawberries getting cheaper during my regular shopping (they’re $1.88 a pound now), I’m torn. My kids love them & will easily devour two boxes at one sitting – but, eek! how much chemical residue are they ingesting?
So, Friday we drove an hour out of town to 5K Farms, where they say they hardly ever use anything, except an occasional fungicide, which they haven’t had to use in years. Their berries were $1.50/lb (which is cheaper than the toxic cardboard tasting ones in the store) for u-pick, and $3/lb for fruit they’d already picked for you. In a couple of hours, we managed to pick 20 pounds of strawberries. I’m not at all sure that that is enough, and having talked myself out of paying double for the luxury of letting the farmer do the work, I’m trying to convince myself to go back in a few weeks for another round, but I have to say, it was work! I wanted to pick as much as possible, in order to save the gas necessary to go back, but everyone was worn out. Then, of course, when we got home, there was the whole processing job to be done. I washed most of them, laid them out on a towel to dry, then on cooling racks in the freezer. I got through all but one big bag, which I left in the ice chest (of course it helped that the kids ate a bunch too!)
Today, while incredibly stiff & slightly sunburnt, I managed to put the frozen berries in plastic storage bags, then wash & dry the rest. I made a batch of ice cream and another of yogurt smoothies, froze some more, and finally left a 16oz box in the fridge. Yes, we should have gotten more, but I don’t know if I could have handled any more at one time. If I manage to get back before they’re all gone (mid to end of May), I’d really like to try dehydrating some. With all the storms we’ve had lately knocking our power out (on top of an extension cord incident a week or so ago, which caused me to spend a weekend cooking defrosted meat!), I think it would be smart not to have all my eggs (or strawberries) in one basket. Plus, it would free up valuable freezer space. Unfortunately, this time I just couldn’t conjure up the energy to slice the strawberries after all the driving & picking & washing. Oh well – always good to have a goal to shoot for! 🙂
Search around – particularly on Pick Your Own, for a place near you if you’d like to replicate this adventure. It’s great to know our food and know your farmer, and besides getting a good dose of Vitamin D, it was very educational for the kids, particularly my 10yr old, who examined the plants for all the different stages of strawberry development. Not to mention that fruit that gets to ripen on the vine just tastes so much better!