The days of strict seasons for produce are gone – I made strawberry cupcakes with fresh strawberries on top for my older daughter’s December birthday – but I still think that certain foods just taste better when it’s warm outside. And strawberries, along with watermelon, squash and tomatoes, are just quintessential summertime snacks. When the days are boiling hot outside, strawberries are delicious blended in a breakfast smoothie, tossed over a lunchtime salad, made into a quick shortcake or ice cream dessert or spiked with rum for a post-work daiquiri. Strawberries are also a smart choice, with lots of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. They are low in calories, can help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure and can even guard against certain types of cancer.
But snacking on strawberries is more than just healthy and tasty; it’s practically your civic duty as a Louisianian: The Louisiana strawberry industry involves 83 growers who produce more than 380 acres of strawberries for a gross farm value of about $15.2 million, according to the Louisiana Ag Summary, and strawberries continue to be the leading fruit crop in the state, with Tangipahoa Parish as the leading strawberry-producing parish with $11.5 million in sales during 2010. In 2001, the state Legislature named the strawberry the state fruit.
The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, held every April, may be behind us, but there is no time like the present to get your fill of this sweet-tart summertime staple.