We are always excited for the first ripe strawberry! I watch the peony beside our house closely in these last days of May, because every year, like clock work, the first peony bloom on that plant tells us that somewhere out in the field, there is a ripe strawberry waiting to be found. James loves the delight on peoples’ faces at market when they see that the first fruit of the season is finally ready. He always tells me that strawberries are his favourite thing to sell 🙂 I could go on and on about the health benefits of eating freshly picked fruit…the nutrient value is at its peak when the fruit is picked when it’s ripe and when it’s consumed as close to picking as possible. Most of you probably know that on some level…but I bet fewer of you have thought of the health benefits of picking your own strawberries.
Much is reported in the news about mental health these days. In fact there are few of us that are not touched in some way by mental health, particularly anxiety and depression. Now, I am not proclaiming to have the cure to anxiety or an antidote to depression! However, logic would tell me that a quiet drive in the country to a farm on a back road with very little traffic would go a long way to help the stress of your work week fall away. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from filling the baskets that you take to the field, not to mention saving money by using your own labour to pick the berries. Making a connection with the people that grow your food can serve to broaden your perspective on life and help you feel positive about where and how you’re spending your grocery money. Picking strawberries with your children is an activity you can do side by side without the interference of devices, teaching them teamwork and providing the opportunity for conversation while you work. Finally, being out in the country can make you want to breathe more deeply, getting more oxygen to your brain, thereby helping you to think clearly.
The physical health benefits of picking your own strawberries are perhaps fewer, but no less significant. Walking out to the strawberry field to warm up your muscles… Moving from standing to kneeling to bending over while you pick are movements that should help you maintain your flexibility. Carrying a basket, laden with juicy strawberries, back to your car is way more fun than any weight training routine! And reaching for your 3 year old child or grand child before they put their 16th strawberry in their mouth sharpens your reflexes and improves your agility!
Life is fast paced and often seems to prevent us from stopping to smell the roses…or in this case, the strawberries. It is so easy to lose your sense of purpose in the busyness of everyday demands. I am learning that I need to carve time out of my busy days for things that are important…things that give my life purpose and meaning and activities that will be a blessing to other people. While it might seem like a stretch to put picking your own strawberries in this category, I would argue that taking time out of your busy schedule to drive to a farm and use muscles that have been dormant for a while suggests that you believe that picking your own fruit is important for your health.