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Summer Berry Recipes

Nature's bite-sized snack, berries, are better when organic. Try these berry recipes.

| July/August 1999

  • Photograph by Joe Coca

  • Photograph by Joe Coca

  • Photograph by Joe Coca

Berries, those jewel-like fruits ripening on lush bushes and vines, are one of the simplest and most sumptuous foods Mother Nature has to offer. At the peak of ripeness, juicy berries veritably burst in your mouth. With a taste somewhere between sweet and tart, they are a simple basic food—essentially perfect. Nothing needs to be done to them to make them taste better.

Berries are the ultimate snack food, tidy little packages of sweet perfection.

But most commercial growers are not content to let berries be berries. If you blindfolded me, sat me down at a table, and put two strawberries before me—one organically grown and one commercially grown—I believe I could tell you which was which. Compared to the organically grown strawberry, the commercially grown one—especially the Driscoll variety from California—would most likely be larger in size and more perfect looking, with fewer blemishes. While appearance can sometimes be deceiving, taste would be the giveaway. Commercially grown strawberries are ­usually irrigated by a watering system, so they tend to be large and full of water. While organically grown strawberries may occasionally be irrigated, especially during drought, organic growers generally use mulch around plants to retain moisture and let nature supply the water. Therefore, although organic berries aren’t usually as big and full of water, they’re twice as tasty.

Most commercially grown berries also are treated with chemicals to control insects and disease; herbicides are regularly used to keep down weeds. Residues of these chemicals remain in the soil and sometimes on the berries. Organically grown berries, however, are free of residue and, to my palate, have no chemical aftertaste. Their flavor comes through bright and clear.

Fresh, just-picked berries are one of nature’s most mouthwatering snacks. They’re low in calories, high in fiber, and are good sources of vitamin C and potassium. Both blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of antioxidants. Best of all, you can pop one in your mouth at any time. No seasoning, no sauce. A truly natural treat.

Why Buy Organic?

You may be able to find more food labeled “organic” now that the market demands it, but getting your hands on the freshest, healthiest produce does take extra effort and will cost you more. Here’s why it’s worth it.

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