i heart organic strawberries
“For a long time now we have understood ourselves as traveling toward some sort of industrial paradise, some new Eden conceived and constructed entirely by human ingenuity. And we have thought ourselves free to use and abuse nature in any way that might further this enterprise. Now we face overwhelming evidence that we are not smart enough to recover Eden by assault, and that nature does not tolerate or excuse our abuses.”
Wendell Berry ~ Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food
For about a year of college I lived in Germany, which was my first exposure to farmer’s markets, a way of life at least where my family there lives. That was some twenty years ago – probably about the very time farmer’s markets were gaining new traction in the U.S. At the time, I’d never seen eggs so fresh they were still adorned with feathers, or vegetables still smelling of the earth.
One thing about fresh food is that it’s always near death ~ counter-intuitively that makes it alive, and allows it to nourish us with all the vibrancy of it’s vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phyto-nutrients (a word apparently so new that my spell check keeps trying to change it).
With that in mind, any one attempting to stay as local to their food sources as possible knows the importance of preserving the harvest. Fresh food is not immortal! At the moment we are at the waning edge of strawberry season here in Virginia. In fact, we missed getting any at the past two markets due to our late arrival, so this morning we got there early!
Making that effort to find the best food for my family is really important. These are not delicacies or haute cuisine at all, but no-frill foods that are raised in harmony with the land, in such a way as to be nourishing rather than depleting.
If we don’t eat the strawberries we bought this morning in about four days, they will rot. So, extending the harvest has become a habit allowing us to enjoy the delights of spring even into the upcoming winter. There are many ways to preserve what’s currently in season from canning, to lacto-fermentation and even simply freezing.
As a rule we try to stick with organic whenever possible, but particularly with strawberries which are a fruit known as one of the dirty dozen. That’s because they are covered with some of the most toxic agricultural chemicals available. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic and known endocrine disruptors – that means they mess with your hormones. Nice! Even after washing, 67% of fruits and vegetables sprayed with these chemicals still contain them. Hmmmm.
Over time, many of these toxins bioaccumulate in our fat cells. Our bodies really do not know what to do with these, and that can have negative effect on our physical health.
The blessing of the farmer’s market is being part of a community. People get to know one another and look forward to chatting, sharing and learning. You know your farmer’s name, and feel confident in his word. None of our local strawberry growers sprays, which is a testament to their dedication and nurture of the land. It’s all connected…in providing well nourished soil to the plants, the plants then become strong and less susceptible to disease and pests, which means these farmer’s don’t need all of the toxic pesticides and fungicides in the first place.
Buying organic can seem more expensive – perhaps in the short run it might slightly be – mostly because we buy en masse. That said, at the farm stand I can pretty much guarantee you will get a discount – most of the time without even asking – if you buy in bulk.