When it comes to strawberries, it’s never just about eating your daily fruit. Sweet brightly colored aromatic strawberries and all the ways we love to eat them through out their brillant season elevates these berries to a much higher level. I find strawberries to be inspirational, whether I’m plowing through the preparation of a massive quantity- say 5 pounds for a big batch of jam or something more reasonable like a pint or two for dessert. Strawberries are inspirational because they encourage you to dream about all the ways to prepare and enjoy them. Whoever said that strawberries are so much more than just berries was so right. Back to my strawberry dreams - first comes the Spring strawberries and those are pretty good, but then what’s just around the corner? All those ripe Summer strawberries. I always have big plans for my strawberries. I like to try new recipes, like my open-faced strawberry omelet with goat cheese (recipe below) but I also love to revisit the classics like strawberry shortcake. Then there are so many more recipes to try, like pies, lemonade, crepes, bar cookies, chilled soups, tarts, muffins, popsicles, compotes, or cheesecake topped with strawberries. I’m also thinking of the many health benefits of strawberries and love adding them to fresh salads for dinner. Speaking of healthy eating..I was very fortunate to attend a strawberry farm tour followed by a delicious lunch in Watsonville hosted by the nice people at The California Strawberry Commission where I learned many things about strawberries including all about their healthy nutritional aspects. My comments and opinions related to this tour are my own.
On a clear sunny day with a slight coastal breeze we met the strawberry grower, Miguel Ramos of Ramos Farms and toured his strawberry fields in the hills above Watsonville. I was thrilled to see my favorite berries in their native habitat and yes we were encouraged to pick the ripest ones we could find for tasting. I also enjoyed chatting with a real honest to goodness strawberry grower and learning so much more about one my favorites-California strawberries. We were able to cover many important topics on the tour, such as labor practices, water, fertilizer use, health of the land, conventional growing versus organic, use of pesticides and possible residues. I found it interesting to learn that organic strawberries are also grown with pesticides and that conventional growers, like Ramos Farms, are always refining their growing process using very few chemicals on their crops. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with his entire operation from field to table as the tour attendees were also treated to a delicious lunch featuring Miguel’s California strawberries at Ella’s at the Watsonville Airport. Have you ever tried a pizza with strawberries or how about fresh halibut with strawberry salsa?
ABOUT STRAWBERRY NUTRITION
- Research suggests that eating just 1 cup (#8aday) is good for the whole body, promoting heart health, diabetes management, supporting brain health, and reducing the risk of some cancers.
- With year-round availability and a 12-month growing season, California strawberries are an easy way to pack a nutritional punch in your daily diet!
- With more vitamin C than an orange and loaded with nutrients, California strawberries are a nutritious and versatile fruit to enjoy every day.
- Strawberries are naturally sweet but low in sugar — only 7 grams and 45 calories per cup!
Here a few more facts on California’s strawberry fields:
The path to the American Dream quite literally winds its way through California’s strawberry fields. 90% of U.S. strawberries are grown year-round in California by 400 diverse family farmers, many on multi-generation farms.
- CA strawberry farming has given Latinos more ownership opportunities than any other major crop.
- Latinos now comprise two-thirds of strawberry growers in California. 25% of them moved up the ladder of agricultural success, starting as pickers and independent growers.
- California’s 400 family strawberry farmers sustain their communities. They:
- Create 70,000 jobs have funded more than $2 million in scholarships for children of field workers and invest 97 cents of every farm dollar back into their communities
- California strawberry farmers are leading stewards of water conservation: Strawberries require less water per acre than an acre of homes in Los Angeles.
- They continue to invest millions of dollars in non-chemical farming methods, more than any other commodity group in the world.
- Our farmers grow conventional and organic strawberries. They live and work in the communities where they farm – so protecting the health of the people, the land and environment is their top priority. Here’s a great resource for science-based information about the safety of organic & conventional produce: http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/
- Whether choosing conventional or organic fruits and vegetables, experts recommend consuming more to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
- Science clearly shows that organic and conventional strawberries are safe to eat and pesticide residues do not pose a safety concern. In fact, an analysis from a toxicologist with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program found that residues on strawberries are so low, if present at all, that a child could literally eat 1,508 servings of strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from residues.>
Open-faced Strawberry Omelet with Goat Cheese and Chives & A Strawberry Field Tour
- 2 eggs
- 6-8 strawberries, sliced
- 1 ounce soft goat cheese, crumbled
- Chives, minced
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Strawberries for serving
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, set aside.
- Place a small non-stick omelet pan on low heat, add butter.
- when the butter is sizzling pour the whisked eggs into the pan, swirl eggs to cover bottom of pan.
- Place the sliced strawberries on top of the eggs.
- Add the crumbled goat cheese evenly over the strawberries.
- Sprinkle on the minced chives.
- Cook until omelet is set, check under edges for doneness using plastic spatula.
- Slide omelet out of pan onto a plate.
- Omelet can be folded over if desired.
- Serve with additional strawberries.