Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Harvest of the Month | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Harvest of the Month

STRAWBERRY: During California's peak strawberry season, production can equal 50 million pounds of strawberries per week.

Q: What fruit is placed in baskets and tied to the horns of cattle in parts of Bavaria as an offering to elves to help produce healthy cows and abundant milk? (Hint: It is the only fruit with seeds on the outside?)

A: Strawberries!

Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring and the last food that the TTUSD elementary school students tasted this year as part of the Harvest of the Month program.

The Harvest of the Month Program has been an overwhelming success and plans are underway for a new menu of fruits and vegetables to taste for next school year! If you are interested in helping to support this fun and effective nutrition education program for our local elementary school students, please contact Maria Martin at the address below. You can help by volunteering for a class or by providing financial support to help purchase the fresh produce. It is refreshing and rewarding to witness childrens’ excitement over fresh fruits and vegetables.

Strawberries have a history that goes back more than 2000 years. There are several explanations of how the berry got its name. One is that children during the 19th century often threaded the berries onto pieces of straw and offered them for sale. Another explanation is the name originated because of the runners which spread outward from the plant. The name may have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon verb to strew (spread) and the fruit came to be known as streabergen, straberry, streberie and finally, strawberry. During medieval times strawberries were served to symbolize prosperity, peace and perfection.

Every state in the U.S. grows strawberries bred for that region of the country, but California is the largest producer of domestically grown strawberries, supplying 88 percent of all of the berries grown. Thirty thousand acres produce more than one billion pounds of California strawberries! Varied climates in the state allow for strawberry production almost year round, but the peak season is from April through June. During this peak, the harvest volume rises from about one million trays per week to five million trays – that’s about 50 million pounds of strawberries per week.

Strawberries are perennials of the rose family and require pollination by bees and other insects to produce fruit. Because the fruit is so delicate the crop must be picked by hand. Strawberry plants are picked about every three days, which is the time it takes for the berries to complete their cycle of turning from green to white to red.

Red fruits and vegetables help maintain a healthy heart, maintain memory function and lower the risk of some cancers. Strawberries contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients. Anthocyanins not only provide the berry its bright red color, but also serve as potent antioxidants and the ellagic acid content has been associated with decreased rates of cancer deaths. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup (about eight medium berries) supplies 140 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C. The berries are also a good source of fiber, potassium and folic acid.

Strawberries are picked at their peak and do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Choose berries that are bright red, have a natural shine, and green caps that look fresh. Berries with green or white tips will be less sweet. Store berries unwashed in the refrigerator crisper drawer to keep them fresh and wash with cool water just before serving. For best flavor, allow strawberries to warm to room temperature. Strawberries make a great snack and are a favorite of many children. Add sliced berries to cereal and yogurt and use as a topping for ice cream or angel food cake. Strawberries are a great addition to spinach salads, pancakes, smoothies and of course fruit salads!

” Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Wellness Dietitian. The Nutrition Coalition is funded and supported by the Tahoe Health System through the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. Contact us at 587-3769, ext. 228 or mmartin@tfhd.com.

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