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CAN (ON): Local food week highlighted by beginning of strawberry season

Just in time for local food week, locally grown Ontario strawberries are now available at store shelves, farmers' markets and pick your own locations across Ontario.

A highly anticipated treat for local food enthusiasts, the strawberry season no longer remains confined to spring and early summer. Thanks to the innovation of "day neutral" strawberries, the season now extends into late fall, allowing for a longer period of enjoyment of the sweet and tasty locally grown fruit.

"Day neutral strawberries have revolutionized the strawberry industry in Ontario," says Victoria Buma, the Research and Promotion coordinator at the Berry Growers of Ontario. "Unlike traditional varieties, which rely on specific daylight conditions and develop fruit during the long days in spring, day neutral strawberries continue to produce buds throughout summer and fall, significantly lengthening the berry season."

To tackle weather-related challenges and ensure consistent production, an increasing number of farmers are adopting innovative farming techniques. One such method involves growing strawberries on tabletops inside open-ended plastic tunnels. This system, widely used in Europe, protects the delicate fruit from weather damage, resulting in reduced loss and waste.

"Our aim is to reduce waste and enhance sustainability in strawberry production," mentions Dalton Cooper, strawberry grower in Norfolk County. "By growing strawberries in controlled environments, we can minimize the impact of weather fluctuations, ultimately providing consumers with top-quality berries."

Furthermore, some Ontario farmers are embracing indoor production methods to grow strawberries under glass in greenhouses all year long.

In addition to their delicious taste, locally grown strawberries offer numerous health benefits. Packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food choice.

Here's what to look for when shopping for locally grown strawberries:

  • Berries that are completely red with no white or green spots and have a sweet smell.
  • Avoid crushed berries and be wary of berries packed in juice-stained containers.
  • Size doesn't matter – all strawberries, large and small, are equally sweet and juicy.


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