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Good Things Grow in Ontario!

Sue smiling and holding two strawberries as earrings in strawberry field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid, I remember singing the tune ‘Good things grow in Ontario!’ And that lyric still holds true today.

I was recently invited by Farm Food Care Ontario to attend a farm tour in beautiful Norfolk County where we had the chance to learn more about food and agriculture!

First stop: Strawberry Tyme Farms

Dalton and John Cooper standing in a high tunnel strawberry field

Meet Dalton Cooper, a 4th generation berry farmer and his dad John. Originally an apple farm since 1939, the family now grows berries using innovative varieties and growing techniques. Traditionally, strawberries harvest in June but a new ‘day-neutral’ strawberry fruits for 5-6 months, extending the typical strawberry season from June / July well into October.

John gave us a little strawberry physiology lesson to understand how this works. ‘June strawberries’ are named as such because they fruit in June. These berries are planted in the Fall when the days are short, and bear fruit in June when the days are long. On the other hand, ‘day-neutral’ strawberries are an annual variety planted in the spring with berries ready to pick about 12 weeks later. The berries continue fruiting regardless of the length of the day, which is why they’re called ‘day-neutral’!

The strawberries are grown on table tops in high tunnels which protect the berries from damaging heavy rains and maintains a moderate temperature. Not to mention, it’s much easier to pick these berries! The Cooper family also grows long cane raspberries, a growing technique where the berries are grown in pots and produce fruit in their second year.

Fun facts: There are 675 farms across Ontario which grow strawberries. Ontario growers produce between 6,000-7,000 tonnes of strawberries each year!

 

Next stop: Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden with their family of Jamaican workers

Image: Facebook Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden Dooney have owned the Suncrest Orchards since 2019 and work with a wonderful Jamaican family of eight employees including Raymond and George.  They’re seasonal agricultural workers who come up to the farm as early as March and stay until the end of October or longer. The farm grows and harvests seven different varieties of apples: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Sunrise, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Royal Gala and Ambrosia.

Red gala apples growing on a bush

At lunch, we had the wonderful opportunity to chat with some of the workers. Amanda says, “We have huge respect and appreciation for the sacrifice they make to come up and help with our orchard.”  Livian, (pictured front left below), for example, has worked seasonally on farms for 25 years and is proud to have supported his four kids through university. Indeed, let’s all give our thanks to the amazing farmers and seasonal agricultural workers who work so hard to grow delicious and nutritious food!

Are you hosting an educational tour? Contact me to cover the event and share highlights!

This event was sponsored travel and this blog reflects my own learning experiences. Thanks to the event sponsors for hosting a truly inspiring and heart-warming event: Farm and Food Care OntarioGreenBeltMore than a Migrant WorkerOntario Apple GrowersOntario Berries and the Ontario Produce Marketing Association.

 

Strawberry Bruschetta

 

Strawberry bruschetta appetizers on a wooden cutting board

Strawberry Bruschetta

Baguette slices are layered with creamy ricotta cheese, strawberries, fresh mint and a drizzle of honey. A delicious snack or appetizer for entertaining.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack

Ingredients
  

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp honey, plus extra for drizzle
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (about 6 strawberries)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves

Instructions
 

  • Slice baguette into 18-24pieces. (Optional: Toast the baguette slices.)
  • In a small bowl, combine honey with ricotta cheese. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture on each slice of baguette.
  • Top with diced strawberries.
  •  Garnish with mint leaves and a drizzle of honey.
Keyword appetizer, baguette, bruschetta, finger food, fresh strawberries, no cook meals, picnic food, ricotta cheese, strawberries, strawberry, Strawberry Bruschetta, summer appetizers, summer recipes

Strawberry Santas

Strawberry Santas

Just in time for the holidays! These cuties are super simple to make and sure to put a smile on everyone’s face!

Ingredients
20 fresh strawberries
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup icing sugar (more if you’d like it sweeter; less if you’d like it less sweet)
40 mini chocolate chips

Directions
1. Slice the stem off each strawberry so that you have a flat bottom. Turn the strawberry point side up. The wide side of the strawberry faces down and is the base of the Strawberry Santa.
2. Slice the pointed tip of each strawberry (about the top 1/3 of the strawberry). This piece will be the hat.
3. Use a small piece of paper towel to dab off the flat ends of each strawberry piece. This will help the icing stay on.
4. In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream and icing sugar.
5. Using a piping bag* with a round tip, pipe a swirl of the icing onto the base of the Strawberry Santa. Gently place the hat on top. Pipe a tiny pompom on the tip of the hat.
6. Add two mini chocolate chips for the eyes.

*If you don’t have a piping bag, simply scoop the icing into a plastic re-sealable bag and cut off a small corner of the bag.

Makes 20 Strawberry Santas

Book Review – Unmasking Superfoods – by Jennifer Sygo, MSc., RD

It’s not always easy to find a nutrition book that’s easy to read and backed by credible research. But Sygo does just that. In Unmasking Superfoods, Sygo separates the truth from the hype behind some of today’s superfoods such as acai, noni, quinoa and the increasingly popular coconut oil. She also gives a shout out to kiwi, pistachios and mussels, calling them underappreciated superfoods. In another chapter of the book, Sygo offers a sound perspective on beef, eggs, potatoes and other foods which she feels have been given a bad rap.

For each superfood, you’ll learn about the backstory, the nutritional profile, the science-based health impacts, and finally the bottom line. Unmasking Superfoods is literally a mini nutrition encyclopedia for consumers and health professionals alike. It’s a keeper on my bookshelf.

2011 Nutrition Recap

Looking back on the year, here are just a few of my favourite nutrition news and trends from home and abroad.

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