I grew up in a small town on the East Coast, and when I was a kid, my mom or nanny would always take us to the orchards in the summer and fall. I loved picking strawberries, raspberries, apples – give me a basket and I’ll harvest your whole orchard. The big draw for me was eating the fruit ripe off the vine. Hello – all-you-can-eat strawberries! 🙂
When my family moved to the Pacific Northwest, we were surprised and pretty excited to see the blackberry bushes everywhere – along the side of every highway, trail, neighborhood, etc. (Turns out they’re kind of invasive… sooo take this with a grain of salt. But the allure of free fresh fruit is enough for me!) Blackberry-picking became a summer ritual. Our dog, Poseidon, learned to eat them right off the bush.
Here in Houston, I haven’t seen much of a local food movement. There’s some local produces at the grocery stores, but you’d be hard-pressed to see a farm inside the city limits. I hear there are some community gardens on the east side of town that have been thriving for awhile, but I have yet to see them.
So, needless to say, I was pretty excited to hear that there’s a big strawberry farm just south of Houston: Froberg’s Farm, on Highway 6. D and I drove out there recently for an afternoon of strawberry picking with his fam, and we had a blast.
I was seriously impressed by a) the sheer size of the place (rows upon rows upon rows of berries), and b) how juicy and delicious the berries themselves were. These strawberries were 100x juicier and more flavorful than any that I’ve bought at the grocery store. Anything is better fresh off the vine, right?
I kind of winced when we went back to the farmhouse to weigh our berries and pay, because we gathered a ton of berries. But they were pretty reasonable – $2/pound – so it wasn’t too bad.
When we got home, D and I hovered over our kitchen island, eating fresh strawberries for a good long while. When we got tired of them, I put some away for snacks all week and froze the rest for green smoothies.
I’m hoping we make it out to the farm a few times a year to gather up some yummy berries, and when we have kids I’d love to share that experience with them. These days, when you shop in a big urban or suburban grocery store, with wide aisles, mountains of cardboard boxes and plastic packages, fluorescent lighting, and shiny linoleum floors, it’s hard to wrap your head around where all that food originates. I think that’s the uniqueness of going out to a u-pick farm or orchard – having that experience of gathering food right from the source. It makes all of the over-processed foods full of chemicals seem ludicrous. Can’t we all go back to eating real food, please?