Loving strawberries all year long

My three sons love eating strawberries all year long. It’s the only fruit my middle son will eat, so I try to keep our fridge stocked.

In April and May, when strawberries are in season in North Carolina, we visit our local you-pick farm once or twice a week to pick berries. The three boys can eat a bucket of ripe, red strawberries in just a few days.

We buy locally grown fruits and vegetables when they are in season, but if we had to depend on just our local farmers for strawberries, the boys wouldn’t get them 10 months out of the year. The rest of the year we buy our strawberries at the grocery store. This is one of the benefits of having a statewide, national, and even global food system.

For the last few years, from November through April, we have looked for winter strawberries, grown by a North Carolina farm in solar tunnels. The tunnels, which are tall enough for a small tractor to drive under, keep the cold winter temperatures out so the strawberries think it’s spring and produce fruit. 

Even with using solar tunnels or other ways to extend the strawberry growing season in our state, we can’t grow the berry year-round. If the boys want to enjoy their favorite fruit, we have to buy berries grown outside the state.

Standing in the produce section checking strawberries off my grocery list, I looked around and realized how lucky we are to have a food system that lets us enjoy our favorite foods every day. The farm growing winter berries is about two hours away, so we can’t drive there every time we need strawberries. Our local grocery store carries the farm’s berries, which means the miles don’t matter. I consider “local” to be anything grown within the state, so the fact that grocery chains are buying from our farmers means I have access to their bounty, even if I can’t buy it directly from the farm. 

When we can’t buy North Carolina strawberries, our cart is filled with berries from other states. Florida strawberries are available from Thanksgiving through March. California farmers, who grow the most strawberries, are picking strawberries from March through July. 

Between those two states and our North Carolina farmers, my boys can indulge in their love of strawberries all year. 

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