That beautiful bowl of strawberries in the photo at left is why I won’t buy strawberries at any other time of year.
I bought this quart at a local farm last week; it was surprising, because by late July strawberries are usually long gone. But it was a cold, wet spring, which doesn’t bode well for strawberries. And so here in southern New England, the berries that were harvested early in the season (mid-June) were OK but not great. Nevertheless, we bought quarts from local farms and enjoyed the freshness of the fruit.
Last week’s quart was unexpected. I had stopped to pick up some vegetables that were in season at the farm – a head of hydroponic lettuce, some incredible Walla Walla onions, the ubiquitous zucchini, early corn, and a bunch of zinnias that had been planted in and among the crops. And there, at the cash register, sat the strawberries, looking deep red and luscious.
The sign on them said: “Our own berries,” and I asked the cashier if this was true (call me Thomas). “Yep,” she said, “it’s crazy, but they’re still coming.” I added a quart to my purchases.
Buying local is not cheap. A quart of strawberries at Stop ‘n’ Shop goes for $2.99 at this time of year; my farm-grown quart was $6.00. Same goes for the lettuce; it’s $1.69 right now at the supermarket vs. the $3.50 I paid for the hydroponic. It’s a lot harder to make these choices when you’re feeding a family of four, five or six versus two empty-nesters.
But when I bit into the first strawberry from last week’s quart, I knew it was worth it. For a moment, I was transported to the Garden of Eden and wondered if I had mistakenly grabbed the forbidden fruit—it was that delicious. Weeks of warm weather and sun had brought these late-season berries to the height of all they were meant to be.
And I decided then and there that for me, it was the right thing to wait until next June for the chance to have another bite of a perfect strawberry from a Rhode Island farm.
For more information about making healthy food choices, take a look at the book Ethical Eating, one of the titles in the Live Simply series available from Franciscan Media.
Photo credit: mckendzia