About a week and a half ago I was invited out to West Hollywood to spend the evening out with the California Strawberry Commission. And let me tell you, they know how to throw a party, and Yolanda from Sassy Mama in LA was a wonderful hostess.
The California Strawberry Commission represents 500 California farmers. Did you know that 88% of US Strawberries come straight out of California? The California Strawberry Commission represents 38,000 acres, and of those acres, 5% are organic farmers.
That evening started off with some mingling as the people of the lovely commission came up to me to introduce themselves, and let me tell you, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. They want people to know they are there to educate, to have conversations with, and to introduce people to the wonder of strawberries. How many of you love strawberries? What are some of your favorite recipes to make with strawberries? For me, I love strawberry crepes, strawberry ice cream, strawberries on top of waffles. That evening, however, I was introduced to all kinds of strawberry recipes I never thought of before:
Strawberry Compacho (sp?) The foodies around me described this as sweet, and one of their favorite compacho’s they’ve tasted. It wasn’t nearly as oniony as so many others have been known for. My favorite part was the sandwich which gave the perfect blend to the compacho.
There was also a steak that was walked around the room that was topped with a decedent strawberry sauce. I never thought to put anything sweet on my steak before, and after that night, I’ve learned that just may be the key to me liking meat in the future because I couldn’t get enough of this combination.
Throughout the evening the Palihouse, where this lovely event was being held, served us Strawberry Mojito’s although they did run out later on in the evening. I have always been a huge fan of mojito’s so I loved the flavor of strawberry mixed in with this fave drink of mine.
And they were also serving shrimp mixed with strawberry salsa on chips throughout the evening, and that, was, by far, my favorite treat of the evening.
After munching on a few treats and mingling with other local bloggers, the California Strawberry got down to business as their social media coordinator took to the stage, and introduced the strawberry commission to us and what they do. Earlier in the summer they took a group of bloggers up to Monterey, California where they explored the strawberry fields, and explained the process of growing strawberries.
They then introduced us to a local grower in the Oxnard, California area: Hector Gutierrez. Some of you may or may not know, but I use to work in the grocery retail industry for 13 years. Of those 13 years I did spend 2 years in the produce department learning about the variety of fruits and vegetables that came into the store, and the process of putting our product, ordering product, and relying on the growers to meet the demands of the customers.
So, to be able to sit in a room where I was able to listen to a local California Strawberry Grower, talk about the other side of the spectrum was great. Hector explained to us the process of growing strawberries, and his involvement with the Strawberry Commission.
Straight from the California Strawberry Commission industry sheet:
California strawberries are planted annually on raised beds. The beds are covered with plastic, which keeps the berries away from the soil and helps conserve water. Drip irrigation reduces disease problems by keeping moisture away from the fruit and uses watermore efficiently. State-of-the-art, post-harvest techniques separate California from other producers.
Once strawberries are picked, they are rushed to a cooling facility where huge fans draw out field heat. When cooled, the strawberries are loaded onto refrigerated trucks for same-day shipment. Keeping the fruit at 32 degrees Fahrenheit during transport helps ensure a quality product for consumers.
California strawberries are available all year long. In winter, strawberries ship from Southern
California; production moves north with the warming spring temperatures. Volume peaks in April,
May and June when production in all districts overlaps. Weekly volume averages five to six million
trays from early April through mid July, and more than 50% of the crop is harvested after the first
Northern districts continue to harvest through November, and a portion of the Southern districts
produce a second crop beginning in October and ending in December.
Prior to this evening I had no idea there was a second growing season from October to December. In this secondary season the primary focus is to grow strawberries that are to be frozen.
I spoke with Hector later on in the evening asking about how many workers he has working on his farm. He said during his peak season in April he has roughly around 90 workers, and they work through the big harvest. In October, the second crop begins to start, and he tries his hardest to keep his workers through the end of December to avoid as many lay offs, as possible. The local growers really do try to take care of their workers.
In order for growers to be apart of the California Strawberry Commission, they do pay a self assessment fee which then helps to fund the California Strawberry Commission activities. The commission is a quasi-state agency that follows CDFA regulations.
We were then handed over to Mr. David Grotto RD, LDN, which is a registered dieticien. He has written 2 great books titled: “101 Foods that can Save Your Life” and “101 Optimal Life Foods.” In January he has another book coming out entitled, ”
The Best Things You Can Eat: For Everything from Aches to Zzzz
Mr. Grotto is a spokesman on behalf of the California Strawberry Commission, and let me tell you, he is funny as heck. He explained to us WTF means, “Where’s the Fiber.” There are over 200 seeds on every single strawberry, and that strawberries are not actually a fruit or vegetable, but apart of the rose family.
Strawberries are one of the 101 foods that can save your life and are filled with fiber, vitamin c, potassium, and folate. They are low in calories and also low in sugar. In other words, how can something that tastes so good be so healthy for us?
Throughout the evening we were asked a bunch of trivia questions, and some people were able to go home with a Copco Strawberry Tea Kettle:
And now 3 of my lucky readers have the opportunity to win one of their own:
Retail Value: 26 dollars
Mandatory Entry: Leave a Comment, say something nice please!
Optional Entries: Leave a comment for each additional item you’ve done.
Follow Minnesota Girl in LA on facebook
Follow Minnesota Girl in LA on twitter
Follow The California Strawberry Commission on facebook
Follow The California Strawberry Commission on twitter
The California Strawberry Commission has a lot of great information on their personal website. Nutritional information, great recipes, and you get a look at some of the local California Strawberry Growers. So please take the time to check out their site.
No purchase necessary, void where prohibited. Must be 18 years or old, and reside in the US. Winners will be chosen through the use of random.org and notified via email. All other rules can be found here. Contest ends on 09/04 at 9pm PST.
Disclosure: I was invited out to an evening with the California Strawberry Commission where I learned about strawberries, how healthy they are, and how they are grown. Snacks and drinks were provided free that evening along with a recipe book and “101 Optimal Life Foods” by David Grotto. The California Strawberry Commission will also be providing the winners their tea kettles.