The kids and I visited a strawberry farm on Friday to pick up three gallons of freshly picked strawberries. This was our second year buying from this family. I especially love that they are just up the road from us. Their strawberries are SO good, too! The van smelled amazing on the drive home; all of our mouths were watering to eat some of those fresh fruits.
As we piled into the kitchen with the baskets of berries, I decided to turn our snack into a little lesson for the kids. Jerry had just bought some strawberries at the store, so I thought it would be fun to do a taste test to show the kids for themselves the difference between buying local and buying store-bought produce.
First, we examined the strawberries side-by-side. I asked the kids which strawberries looked the best. That was a no-brainer. The store bought strawberries were bigger, and much more uniform in shape. Although, it was a somewhat unfair comparison as the farm picked strawberries I got were the discounted not-so-perfect-looking ones. Nevertheless, it still helped me make my point in the end (that better looking produce doesn’t mean better tasting).
Next, I cut up one of each so they couldn’t tell which was which, and let the kids try them one at a time. The first one I gave them was the store bought strawberry. Jada’s reaction was, “It’s good… a little sour though.”
Ty, well, he’s a boy; food is food. I got no comments out of him.
Then I gave them pieces of the farm fresh strawberries. As Jada popped a piece into her mouth, I thought she was going to melt in her chair! Her eyes rolled back in her head as she relished the flavorful juices exploding in her cheeks. (Quite a dramatic reaction it was!) I couldn’t help but laugh at her! Hands down, the local berries won.
I didn’t tell her which was which right away though. I wanted to make sure her opinion hadn’t been swayed in any way; so I tested her. After she’d emphatically concluded that the second strawberry was the best I said, “So, you like the store-bought strawberry the best?” She nodded her head and assured me that if that strawberry had been the store-bought one, it was definitely top dog. I laughed again and revealed, “I’m just tricking you baby! That was the local strawberry…” She didn’t waver in her opinion; whichever it had been, the second strawberry was the best of all.
As they enjoyed a bowl full of fresh picked strawberries I explained the taste difference. I told the kids that the produce we get in the store has often been shipped in from very far away. The strawberries we’d gotten at the store were from California, all the way across the country! I explained that when they ship those strawberries to us, they have to pick them before they are ripe so that they aren’t spoiled by the time they get here. And when picked too soon, they aren’t allowed to develop their full flavor. That’s why they were somewhat sour, and not nearly as sweet.
The local strawberries, however, had been picked that morning, completely ripe and ready to be eaten. They’d had a chance to sweeten to their full potential, and that’s why they tasted so much better! The kids agreed, they were definitely MUCH better.
I think this was a great way to teach the kids the importance of supporting our local farmers, and choosing food that is local and fresh over stuff that has been shipped in from who-knows-where, who-knows-when.
Nothing beats hands-on learning! Gotta love fresh picked strawberries.