Thursday, June 21, 2007

Strawberry Season!

Our short but delicious local strawberry season usually begins around Father's Day in June each year and ends by Canada Day, the first of July. The imported strawberries available throughout the year from Mexico and California cannot compare to the juicy flavour of a fresh picked, sun ripened berry. In my opinion, they cannot be improved upon with the addition of sugar or cream. My friend and co-worker, Lisa, brought me my first local strawberries from her family's farm. She had taken two vacation days from the hospital to help with weeding and harvesting the field of strawberries. Two years ago she had invested a lot of time planting a large strawberry patch with her mother and other family members and they now have an abundant harvest.

Everyone should be friends with at least one farmer. Farming has become distanced from the aisles of the supermarket and often local farm foods are not available at the large grocery chains.

Lisa has made me aware of the hard work involved every day in farming. Her parents are my age and the years of labour have taken a physical toll on them. She has three brothers and three sisters, with one brother expressing an interest in running the farm. Large families really are a help in sharing the workload. Lisa still feels her responsibility to help out even though she lives and works an hour's drive away from the farm. Last fall we had so much rain that the farmers had difficulty harvesting the corn. Lisa's father couldn't get his machinery on the fields until the end of November and the quality of the crop was diminished by mould and rot.

I am currently reading a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. It explores the industrial food chain which creates many of our foods that are unrecognizable from their original form. The pastoral, or organic food chain and the hunter-gatherer food chain are also described. This may sound like heavy reading, but it is well written and very interesting. The author, Michael Pollan writes,

"Many people today seem perfectly content eating at the end of the industrial food chain, without a thought in the world; this book is probably not for them. There are things in it that will ruin their appetites. But in the end this is a book about the pleasures of eating, the kinds of pleasure that are only deepened by knowing."

Recently I was helping one of my patients fill out her menu sheets for the following week. I was reading the meal choices to her and she told me emphatically that she never ate fruits or vegetables. She wouldn't even drink fruit juice. I was not surprised by her long list of health problems. Her diet consisted of bread, meat, potatoes (well that is one vegetable) and sweets.

Would you be delighted with a basket of just picked strawberries or other fresh produce? Or do your tastes run to the processed and packaged offerings that are so abundantly available in our shops and fast food outlets?

12 comments:

  1. Good "food for thought", Ruth. I will only eat fast food as a last result when I'm starving. That might happen three times a year.

    I could finish that basket of strawberries throughout the day.

    Most of what I cook is fresh outside of a few frozen vegetables we like. My husband loves canned green beans, though ?!?

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  2. I have made a strong effort to cook more fresh foods this last year. Our German relatives shop nearly every day, buying food for just that day. Freshness is very important to them.

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  3. There's nothing like the ON strawberries. The ones in AZ are large and tasteless. I'm thankful for a mother that taught me the importance of a balanced diet and how to prepare food in a healthy manor.

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  4. Fresh for me, thank you.
    Right now in my frig I have fresh peaches, fresh blueberries and fresh cherry tomatoes.
    I don't think there is any canned vegetable that I eat--unless you count baked beans or kidney beans.
    For convenience, in the winter, I don't mind frozen veggies.

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  5. One of the best advantages of living in California is that you can have fresh fruit and veggies most of the year. But many of them are picked too early that you get in the grocery stores. It's great when you can easily find a farmers' market - you know you are getting fruit and veggies that are fresher and tastier. And with that in mind I say the same thing KGMom says - fresh, please! I cannot imagine someone not wanting to eat fruits or at least drink fruit juice.

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  6. Oh my goodness! Part of the reason my blog posts have slowed down is that I'm busy making fresh strawberries into jam, and little crushed up ice cubes (for smoothies) and shortcake and strawberry rhubarb things and... well you get the idea. Honestly, I think I could be a fructarian.

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  7. Oh, give me the strawberries any day! No toppings either... just plain, juicy, ripe berries! YUM! I do not eat fast food at all anymore other than an occasional salad at Wendys.

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  8. Never eats fruit? I can't even imagine that. How sad.

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  9. I don't know why Blogger put my last comment on this post, it belonged on the one before, but oh well...

    Ummm, strawberries! Where's the whipped cream?

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  10. OK, nevermind. Obviously I need more coffee - or strawberries. The post is correct, I'm the one that's wonky.

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  11. Hi Ruth,
    I tried to comment last night and our power went out due to a thunderstorm....so I'm here today.

    I liked this post about fresh fruit and vegetables. In the last couple years, I have finally become truly aware of what's in processed foods and how pesticides, additives, etc. can affect your health. Although I still don't eat as healthy as I should, I'm doing much better and continue to try and improve. We also watched the movie "Super Size Me" about a year ago and have not been to McDonalds since!

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  12. Mary- I don't mind canned green beans in bean salad. Canning food is a time-honoured way of extending the harvest. I do prefer fresh, but I do can peaches and pears.

    Lynne- You are right about Europe. Freshness is important. It does mean more frequent shopping, but it is worth it.

    OmaLois- ON strawberries...I hope you get some this year! I am sure Grandma T was a good cook.

    KGMom- I use a lot of canned legumes as they do take so long to cook. I always rinse them to decrease the salt. Your fridge contents sound healthy.

    MaryC- Your California strawberries must taste better there than in Ontario. You are right...things are picked and shipped far too early for good flavour.

    Jennifer- You are a busy lady! You will have to take a picture of your labours. I will have to make strawberry shortcake this weekend.

    Jayne- I like Wendy's salads too. I do think fast food places have tried to offer healthier foods, but they don't sell as well as junk. Go figure!

    LauraO- I have to have fruit every day. Too bad sugar has ruined some people's instinct for healthy fruits. Enjoy more coffee and strawberries!;-)

    RuthieJ- You got more rain...lucky!
    Supersize Me should be required viewing. I too try to eat healthy foods, but it is easy to fall short from time to time.

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