Canada has some delicious produce, including seasonal strawberries. But while these prized jewels have a very limited run in our climate, we can count on California strawberries for high-quality and affordable berries, available to Canadians all year round.
If you’re eating strawberries outside of the summer months, there’s a gigantic chance you’re snacking on berries from south of the border, the Golden State to be exact.
In fact, California Strawberry farmers provide a staggering 90% of the strawberries imported into Canada — probably the ones in your smoothie right now.
In celebration of the best choice for year-round berries, here are some fun facts you probably didn’t know about the California strawberry.
California is a heavy-weight when it comes to organic
Known for ideal growing conditions (the soil, climate, and proximity to the Pacific Ocean), the California coast is home to many farmers — planting and harvesting the delicious fruits and veggies we Canadians eat every day — and yummy strawberries are no exception.
Primarily grown in the central coast of California, from Santa Cruz to Santa Maria and Ventura, acres upon acres of strawberry fields cover the landscape — often tended to by generations of family farmers.
It’s a momentous industry, with California Strawberry farmers growing more organic berries than anywhere else in the world, including Mexico, Spain, or the other 49 states combined. In a year, California Strawberry farms harvest a whopping average of 1.8 billion pounds of berries!
California strawberry farmers are world leaders in safe farming practices
With the sheer volumes of berries passing through the hands of these dedicated farmers, berry cultivators know a thing or two about organic growing and sustainability. They promote these ideas with practices such as hand-weeding to reduce herbicide use and high-tech mechanical bug vacuums that suck up insects to reduce pesticide use.
Ladybugs and other beneficial insects are actually released into the strawberry fields, to act as a “first line of defence,” while chemical fertilizers are replaced by fish emulsion as well.
At the same time, California strawberry farmers are always researching and developing new methods to conserve water and maintain soil health.
California Strawberries maintain multi-generational family businesses
More than 300 farmers who grow 90% of US-grown strawberries do so on multi-generational and family owned-farms.
Many of these farmers live and work in the communities where they farm, making them even more committed to the health of the land, people, and environment.
The fields also promise career advancement, where many pickers, truck drivers and supervisors advance to management and even farm ownership.
Strawberries have some mighty health benefits
Not only delicious — California strawberries are also incredibly nutritious! Naturally low in sugar, high in vitamin C, and a great source of fibre, folate, potassium, and antioxidants, strawberries are a powerhouse fruit.
Clinic research suggests that eating eight strawberries a day can provide numerous health benefits, including the possibility of reducing inflammation and decreasing oxidative stress.
And what’s more, strawberries can potentially improve brain and heart health, reduce the risk for some cancers, and help in the management of type 2 diabetes — not bad for some tiny but powerful berries!
Strawberries are versatile in a bunch of recipes and meals
Perfect for decadent desserts or as a pop of sweetness in a salad, there are hundreds of recipes that showcase the hearty berry, including the delicious California strawberry.
Strawberries can also be used to brighten up savoury dishes, add some colour to mains, and they can even be transformed into tangy sauces and vinaigrettes.
One of California Strawberries’ most-popular recipes is Fish Tacos with Strawberry-Cucumber salsa. It’s a perfect summertime dish and is quite easy to whip up.
After you’re done marinating and pan-frying your white fish of choice with some oil and garlic (halibut, cod, or sole is recommended) the delicious Strawberry-Cucumber salsa comes together in no time.
Finely chop and mix together a pint of fresh, hulled California strawberries, an English cucumber, 2/3 cup of red onion (shallots work too!), a handful of cilantro, one jalapeño, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a crack of black pepper. Chill the salsa until it’s ready to serve.
Add some salsa and a bit of your fish to a corn tortilla, top it with more chopped cilantro and some lime juice and voila! An easy and nutritious California-strawberry dinner.
So next time you pick up a basket of California strawberries while you’re shopping in grocery store, remembering these little facts will make your next bite a touch sweeter.
To learn more about California Strawberry growers and farms, and to explore different recipes, check out the California Strawberries website.