Pick your own berries
If you have never shopped at a pick-your-own market, you may want to give it a try. With strawberries coming into season, and other berries soon to follow, now is a good time to start.
According to an article from the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, it is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. This long distance, large-scale transportation of food consumes large quantities of fossil fuels. Transporting food over long distances also generates great quantities of carbon dioxide emissions. Retailers recoup fees for shipping, handling, and packaging of fruits and vegetables by passing this cost on to the consumer. Going to a pick-your-own farm is a good way to find less expensive and fresher berries.
Suggestions to follow when going to a pick-your-own farm include:
- Call or email the farm to confirm they have the fruit you want and get their hours of operation.
- Farms may provide picking containers but may also charge for them. When you call, find out if you need to bring your own clean, food-grade containers.
- Know how much you need before you go. You don't want to pick more than you can use.
- Check to be sure the fresh fruit you are picking is not bruised or damaged.
- Once you get your fruit home, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits.
- Clean all surfaces and utensils with hot water and soap including cutting boards, countertops, and knives that would touch the fresh fruits before and after preparation.
- Rinse fresh fruits under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm skin fruits under running tap water or scrub with a clean with a vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Never use detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits. These products are not intended for consumption.
- Refrigerate all cut, peeled, or cooked fresh fruits within two hours. Throw away fresh fruits that have not been refrigerated within two hours of cutting, peeling, or cooking.
Reviewed by Suzanne Driessen, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2010.