In early June, I was invited to the California Strawberries’ Annual Field Tour and Culinary Sponsored Travel Event. I have been to California (my favorite state) many times but never to Monterey Bay. I arrived at the beautiful Intercontinental Clement Monterey on Cannery Row overlooking Monterey Bay and fell in love with this historic area awash with incredible restaurants, beaches and Pebble Beach golf course! It was the perfect location for the event.Monterey Bay

The Kick-Off Dinner

This tour had a terrific bunch of writers with different business niches from children’s nutrition to the Paleo diet. I love meeting other food writers, bloggers and dietitians on my travels and the kick-off dinner was at the lovely Montrio Bistro featuring Chef Tony Baker’s delicious cuisine. Chef Baker’s menu was outstanding with strawberries at every course. For me, it’s difficult to highlight my favorite because it was all so scrumptious, but the “intermezzo” of strawberry elderflower soda pop, strawberry and pop rocks was a fun, unique textural orchestra that brought back childhood memories of exploring pop rocks with my brother. The entrée was wood-oven roasted Alaskan halibut, puy lentils, arugula, and berry broth…simply delicious!

Holding StrawberryThe Strawberry Know-How

Can you believe all California strawberries are hand-picked to ensure only the highest quality berries are harvested? This is just one of the strawberry facts we learned before going on the field tour. Heather Healy, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner in Monterey County, gave us the data about the county’s robust program to regulate pesticide use. Two of California Strawberries own – Chris Christian, Vice President, and Carolyn O’Donnell, Communications Director – enlightened us with more strawberry knowledge, pointing out that California strawberry farmers are leading stewards of water conservation. Did you know strawberries require less water per acre than an acre of homes in Los Angeles? Also, the farmers continue to invest millions of dollars into non-chemical farming methods, more than any other commodity group in the world. That’s awesome!

Jane Dummer Strawberries Video ImageThe Grower and Strawberry Fields

Meet owner and operator of Fresalva Berry in Salinas – the location of our field tour. Jesus’ entrepreneurial story started when he was working as a picker, learning English along the way, to now owning the 80-acre Fresalva Berry farm. Jesus is farming conventional and organic strawberries and he epitomizes the unparalleled opportunities California strawberry farming provides. Ninety percent of U.S. strawberries are grown year-round in California by 400 diverse family farmers, many on multi-generation farms. Now that’s real and inspiring to be able to make a living off of one crop! These farms are located in five distinct areas of California and produce more than 1.7 billion pounds of strawberries annually. That’s oodles of deliciousness! Watch this video to see myself and the other writers relishing in the beautiful California day, learning more strawberry facts and eating the fruit right off the plants on Jesus’ farm.

The Nutritious Strawberry

With year-round availability and a 12-month growing season, California strawberries are an easy way to increase nutrition in your daily diet! Strawberries have more vitamin C per serving than an orange and are loaded with nutrients including fiber and antioxidants. Strawberries are naturally sweet but low in sugar; only 7 grams and 45 calories per cup! And trust me the strawberries from Jesus’ farm were the sweetest I’ve ever tasted! Thanks Toby Amidor, fellow RD, for your strawberry nutrition insight!

Strawberry LunchThe Wrap-Up Lunch

To end the farm tour we had lunch al fresco in a charming parkette back in Monterey. Chef Jasmine Wolf, owner and operator of The Lobos Truck, treated us to her American comfort food with a twist, which of course included strawberries. The delicious meal consisted of strawberry ceviche blanco served in a grilled avocado shell with pickled red onion, fresh citrus, cilantro and jalapeno, complimented by grilled peach and strawberry toast with chimichurri and chilled lobos green dragon chicken and corn, then very berry baby back ribs n mac, and finished with waffle fries and strawberry ketchup. The flavor profile was out of this world!

Jodi and JesusA special thank you goes to the fun and fabulous Jodi Reinman, PR/Social Media Manager with California Strawberries, and Jennifer Chidester, Founder and CEO of Modern PR, for organizing such an enjoyable and informative Get Real with California Strawberries.

For more strawberry facts and delicious recipes visit Californiastrawberries.com

This post was sponsored by California Strawberries.
The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. 

Feature image courtesy of California Strawberries. All other Images © Jane Dummer

Copyright © 2016 Jane Dummer | All Rights Reserved