The months between Christmas and spring break are usually pretty uneventful around here. Holiday excitement is over and, yet, we are not quite back to the beach weather that gets everyone geared up and out of the house. Of course there’s Valentine’s Day but, eh, I can take it or leave it. It’s the usual day-to-day activities that keep us chugging along, as we wait for the next big thing to come along.
Maybe it was the brilliant idea of someone who shared the same sentiments as myself, but somewhere along the way, strawberries became the main event of the season. What better way to pass time then by celebrating a big, juicy red berry? It may seem a little odd since oranges are actually the state’s leading fruit crop. Strawberries, however, rank pretty high on the list of fruits that grow exceptionally well in our subtropical climate. Every year, there is a strawberry festival that brings thousands of visitors. Roadside stands and u-pick strawberry fields are also common sights across most of the state. Some of my favorite memories as a child are of getting up at the crack of dawn to go strawberry picking. We would come home with a trunk full of strawberries, enough to make jam that would last for months.
For me, strawberries mark the start of spring, the ability to get out and enjoy nature, and eating delicious berries right off the bush. My hope is that our children can continue to experience those same joys. I would love to say that it’s completely safe to pop just any beautiful looking strawberry that you come across. Changes to our environment, unfortunately, have limited that ability. Just recently, strawberries topped the list of the most highly contaminated fruits and vegetables. In studies, over 99% of strawberry samples tested positive for pesticide residue, some including over 20 different types of pesticides. It’s harrowing to know that our children, wanting only to experience a strawberry like a child should be able to, could potentially be consuming a number of toxic substances.
Whether picking your own strawberries, or buying them at the store, it is always best to search out organic ones. Even if they are a little more costly, choosing delicious, clean strawberries are worth every extra penny. It’s worth it not only for your health, but also for the memories they create.
Spinach, Strawberry, and Red Cabbage Salad
- 5 oz. mix of baby spinach and baby romaine lettuce
- 1 pint strawberries, washed, trimmed, and sliced
- 1/4 head red cabbage, thinly shredded
- 1/2 c pecans, chopped
- 1/4 c crumbled feta (optional)
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 Tbsp red onion or shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, mustard, and salt. Stir in onion and poppy seeds.
- In another bowl, combine greens, strawberries, and cabbage.
- Add desired amount of dressing and toss to coat.
- Top with pecans, and feta if using, immediately before serving.
*Dressing recipe makes more than is needed for this salad. Leftover dressing can be kept in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For vegan option, do not include crumbed feta.