It’s that time of year again folks! It’s harvest season for pick your own strawberries here in Michigan, and blueberry season isn’t far behind. Wouldn’t you rather pick local, organically grown berries for a fraction of the cost of store bought berries from who-knows-where?
Good, me too. First, go to PickYourOwn.org to find local, organic fruit growers. Second, get your lazy but off the couch and go pick some fruit.
Why pick local fresh fruit?
There are many good reasons to pick your own fruit. Here are a few.
- It saves you money. In most cases, picking fresh fruit is far cheaper than buying fruit at the store… Even if you’re picking organic fruit. Why? Because picking your own cuts out a whole laundry list of middlemen. When you pick your own, there are no picking costs, distribution costs, processing costs, or store stocking and markup costs.
- It’s better for you. Picking ripe, organic fruit fresh from the plant is far higher is nutritional value than fruit grown on factory farms (Del Monte, etc.). Conventionally-grown fruit is normally sprayed and fertilized with chemicals, picked before it is ripe, shipped across the country, ripened artificially, and covered in a waxy coating. The secret is also in the soil. Most small scale, local, organic farmers nurture their soil because they know that better soil means better crops.
- It tastes better. How do I know? Because this skeptic has compared the two. Don’t believe me? Go to a local organic farm and pick some strawberries. Now go to the store and buy some conventionally-grown strawberries (which will most likely be from out of state). Do a simple taste test, compare costs, and decide for yourself.
Why not just grow fruit?
Well, you can… But most fruit plants aren’t like tomato plants. You can’t just plant them in the spring and reap the bounty a few months later.
If you have the time, space, a plan, and the desire to do so, then growing your own may be just what the doctor ordered. However, many fruit plants require a lot of real estate and several years to mature and produce.
If you would rather grow your own, and have the wherewithal to do so, then by all means – go for it! But for those of us who don’t have time or space, picking locally may can make more sense. It does for me and Mrs. Jabs.
More about the health benefits
Here is a great quote from the enormously popular and influential book, Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples:
And we can see that the diets of the world’s exceptionally healthy and long lived peoples have a great deal in common:
- They are all low (by Western standards) in overall calories.
- They are all high in good carbohydrates, including plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- They are all “whole-foods” diets, with very little (if any) processed or refined foods, sugars, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, or other chemicals.
- They all depend on fresh foods, eating primarily what is in season and locally grown rather than relying on canned foods or foods shipped long distances.
- They are all low (though not super-low) in fat, and the fats comes from natural sources, including seeds, nuts, and in some cases fish, rather than from bottled oils, margarine’s, or saturated animals fats.
- They all derive their protein primarily from plant sources, including beans, peas, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.
More about the benefits
My wife, who is enjoying her new found freedom of summer break, just picked 25.6 lbs of local, organic strawberries. The cost? $32.00. Those who do the math will see that we paid just $1.25/lb for produce that is far healthier and tastier than anything we could have purchased at our local Walmart.
Here is how we have used our berries so far:
- A homemade strawberry rhubarb crisp
- 10 jars of homemade strawberry jam
- 10 pounds into the deep freeze
- 5 pounds left fresh and whole for eating over the next week or two (my personal favorite!)
We’ll plan to use our frozen berries throughout the remainder of the year, and will probably end up picking another 10 or 20 pounds to make sure we have enough. We may also make some more jam to give away as homemade Christmas gifts, just when people are hankering for a taste of fresh, wholesome, strawberry jam.
What about you?
Do you pick your own fruit? Or maybe you grow your own fruit? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Or do you think this whole idea is a complete waste of time? Please let us know in the comments.