Today we went on a wander and ended up visiting some family friends who own and run a strawberry farm.
There were subtle hints right from the get-go that things were not as they should be. Weeds were growing amongst the vines. Super large, juicy strawbs were thick and fast along every row. All the picker's trollies were parked up.
These things may not sound like much but at a time when strawberry farms should be in full swing sending truckloads of strawberry punnets off to market, it really means that something is not right. And it soon became apparent why. These farmers are being offered 40cents - yes that's $0.40 - a punnet for their strawberries. Are you serious?! How can you make a living off 40cents a punnet?
And the answer is you can't.
It costs much more than 40cents a punnet to grow, harvest and package... and therefore they have decided not to. All their wonderfully sweet, juicy strawberries are being left to rot.
We were given a box and told to pick as many as we wanted, so quickly got to work. When we checked over our shoulder to see how the two-foot tall family member was going we realised just how luscious these little beauties were. With juice running down her chin and two of the largest strawberries we've laid eyes on gently being squished between her little fingers, we also realised that she wasn't going to be any help with filling the box up. In less than 3minutes we had gathered over 2 kilos and barely made a dent in the glut of strawberries before us.
After providing the little hands with a few roadies we jumped back in the car and headed home to show off our hunter-gathering skills to the rest of the family and relay the message about how hard our local strawberry farmers are doing it.
I guess what we're trying to tell you with this is that the agricultural industry as a whole is doing it tough. We all know that a lot of this has to do with unsustainably low food prices being peddled by large food chains. When you go to work, you expect to be paid a decent wage for your days work. So do farmers, it's just that we are the ones paying their wage. We can't help every farmer, but we can support one or two in our local area by buying locally, especially at market stands were we can at least ensure the fair price we pay is going straight to that farmer.
So go on, start your weekly shop off by helping to reduce the glut of strawberries and grab a punnet from your local farmer tomorrow. When they look this good you really can't go wrong.
Just in case you have any left overs and are at a loss as to what to do with them, here's a few suggestions from our favourites list.
Strawberry Sorbet with Lemon
Grapefruit & Strawberry Greyhound Poptail
Strawberry Bruschetta Grilled Cheese
Strawberry-Sour Cream Icecream