Strawberries. Those red delicious berries bring back memories of going to the fields and picking with my mother so she could make strawberry jam. Thinking back now, I know I ate a lot more than I actually picked.
Local foods such as asparagus and rhubarb have hit our markets, and now’s the time for the famous strawberry to hit our taste buds. There is nothing like eating a fresh Chatham-Kent grown strawberry.
Did you know there are over 600 varieties of strawberries in the world? Their history dates back over 2,000 years, with records showing a number of native varieties in many parts of the world.
Strawberries are thought to have been cultivated in ancient Rome. The strawberry, as we know it, was originally grown in northern Europe, but species are also found in Russia, Chile, Canada, and the United States.
The berries seem to be strewn among the leaves of the plant. The plant first had the name strewberry, as farmers used to bring them to market on beds of straw, so later the name was changed to strawberry.
Strawberries are not really berries or fruit, but are instead the enlarged ends of the plant’s stamen. It is the small black spots which are actually the fruit.
The strawberry is considered one of the most important small fruits grown in the Western Hemisphere. Every province in Canada and every state in the United States grow the strawberry plant. It grows both as a wild plant and as a cultivated plant. Strawberries contain a large amount of antioxidant, anticancer, anti-neurodegenerative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Strawberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber and Vitamins C and K. They are a very good source of manganese, pantothenic acid, vitamin B1, and iodine. They are a good source of folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B6.
One of the previous drawbacks of the strawberry season was that it was too short. But now, we have day-neutral strawberries. These type of strawberries will blossom and set fruit no matter how long or how short the days. This means we can now enjoy Chatham-Kent strawberries from May to October, which is great news for all of us. This means our growers are able to compete for a longer period of time with imported strawberries.
Speaking of imported strawberries, one of our grocery stores are advertising California strawberries for $1 per pound. This is the cheapest price I have ever seen. Therefore, we as consumers have a choice. We can purchase cheap imported strawberries or we can purchase locally grown strawberries. If we choose to purchase the imported products, then at some point we could expect our local growers to stop growing strawberries, as they cannot compete with these imported, low cost, loss leader items. This also applies to many other imported food items that we grow here in Chatham-Kent. The choice is ours.
So now is the time to go out and pick your own or buy some delicious and nutritious Chatham-Kent grown strawberries at many of our local produce stands, markets, and stores. Keep supporting our local producers. It’s good for you, knowing you are eating fresh and nutritious foods, and is great for our local economy.
Think about this – Man’s way leads to a hopeless end, but God’s way leads to an endless hope. Just some food for thought.
Here in Chatham-Kent ‘WE GROW FOR THE WORLD’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at: www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’