Nothing says summer quite like the juicy, sweet taste of a fresh strawberry. These nutrient-packed red gems are a favourite fruit, and so versatile that you can add them to your breakfast smoothie, pack them for a picnic or hike, feature them in your baking or use them in savoury family meals.
But summer isn’t the only time you can enjoy these champions of goodness in Canada, thanks to strawberry farmers along the California coast who grow nearly 90 per cent of the strawberries in the U.S. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean and warm climate creates the ideal growing conditions for this crop, which benefits from the cool morning mists and warm afternoon sun. Growing under sunny days and cool nights helps create plump and vibrant red strawberries that can be devoured by Canadians year-round. Their bright bursts of colour and flavour evoke everything we love about California—beautiful natural landscapes, sun-kissed sweetness and healthy eating.
Approximately 37,000 acres of beautiful land along the California coast is dedicated to growing this small but mighty fruit. During peak season, California strawberries are picked by hand in Salinas, Watsonville, Santa Maria, and Oxnard. An estimated 2.3 billion pounds of strawberries are harvested in a year.
The next time you’re out shopping for clamshells of strawberries, look for a “Product of USA” label to experience the actual fruits of the labour of California’s hardworking strawberry farmers. Strict agricultural and environmental standards govern this industry, and for 50 years and counting, generations of California’s more than 300 strawberry growers have dedicated their lives to producing their delectable crops in safe and healthy ways.
In this unique American farm-to-table legacy, strawberry farmers in the Golden State have always been pioneers in sustainable farming techniques. Many come from generations of farmers, starting out as strawberry pickers and working their way up to acquire land and grow their own crops. They’re leaders in resource conservation and early adopters of drip irrigation. Many growers continue to research and develop agricultural processes that help reduce pesticide usage and keep the soil healthier. In fact, more organic strawberries are grown in California than anywhere else in the world, and one in four California strawberry farmers grow both conventional and organic berries.
Once harvested, California strawberries are cooled and then loaded into refrigerated trucks for same-day shipment, meaning they can arrive within days from the fields to grocery stores across the United States and Canada.
This efficient process means we don’t ever have to look too far to source these great-tasting berries, no matter what time of the year, which are also chock full of nourishing health benefits. Eight strawberries a day satisfies the daily amount of vitamin C you need. They’re low in sugar, high in vitamin C, and full of nutrients and antioxidants like folate and potassium, not to mention a good source of fibre. Eating strawberries will satisfy your cravings for sweetness and simultaneously boost your immune function, improve heart and brain health, and reduce your risk of cancer.
The versatility and health benefits of strawberries means you can easily work them into almost any recipe, from snacks and drinks to salads, breakfasts and mains—no need to relegate them only to desserts. For backyard barbecues, try serving a Strawberry Shrimp Ceviche, a refreshing cool take on a classic ceviche. Or whip up a sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce made with California strawberries with this easy recipe for BBQ Chicken Drumsticks with Strawberry-Chipotle Sauce. Another unexpected dinner dish is a made-from-scratch Strawberry Basil Pizza—make it heart-shaped and top it with burrata—that will instantly impress your family and friends and become a favourite go-to recipe.
Learn more about this delicious superfruit at californiastrawberries.com.
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