img class=”alignright size-full wp-image-6236″ style=”margin: 10px;” title=”Strawberries” src=”http://www.liveinthenow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/iStock_000000945119Small-e1273688347349.jpg” alt=”” width=”354″ height=”261″ />It’s that time again! Ripe, locally grown strawberries are now available in abundance in many parts of the U.S. Of course, you can generally find imported or frozen strawberries in the grocery store just about any time of year, but those berries pale in comparison to the juicy little gems that emerge in late spring to kick off fresh berry season.
Like other berries, strawberries are true anti-aging superfoods. They’re higher in vitamin C than oranges, and an excellent source of disease-fighting phytonutrients. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, red pigments with powerful antioxidant properties, and ellagic acid, a compound found in berries shown to fight wrinkles.
It’s important (year-round) to choose strawberries that are grown without pesticides, to ensure that you are getting their nutritional benefits without potentially exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. Conventional growers tend to spray strawberries heavily, and like other berries, they have thin skins, which means that it’s harder to wash off pesticide residues. Either buy berries that are certified organic, or buy from smaller local growers who can verify that they do not spray their berries. Before I buy strawberries (and other types of produce) at a farmer’s market, I always ask whether or not they have been sprayed with pesticides. I used to feel kind of uncomfortable about doing this, until it occurred to me that the only way to let your local growers know that there is a real demand for pesticide-free produce is to tell them.
Unfortunately, buying organic or pesticide-free strawberries may soon become even more important. We recently learned that California has just approved a known carcinogen called methyl iodide for use as a pesticide on strawberries. This is bad news, considering that California produces over 80% of the nation’s strawberries, and considering that the President’s Cancer Panel has just released a report warning that exposure to chemical toxins can cause cancer. (Note: The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is accepting comments on this decision until June 14, 2010. If you disagree with this proposed regulation, let them know how you feel!)
Your best bet for nutrition, taste and safety is organic or pesticide-free, and locally grown, if you can get ’em. Fresh, “just picked” strawberries taste amazing by themselves, in a bowl with fresh whipped cream or yogurt, blended into a smoothie, tossed into a salad, baked into a pie with rhubarb, or… well, you get the point. Below are some selections from our collection of healthy recipes that feature, you guessed it… strawberries. Enjoy!