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Starting off the strawberry season

Strawberries have just come in season, and people can’t get enough.
“You can’t keep them on the shelves,” said Jeff Crotts, who runs Knob Creek Orchard and Creamery in west Lincoln. “We run out everyday.”
The season won’t peak until mid-May, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting their fill now.
“It’s the first fresh fruit of the season and I think everyone loves strawberries,” said Crotts.
Sure, people can buy strawberries at their local supermarket, but there’s something special about getting them fresh from the farm.
“They’re just better when they come from around here,” said Ken McCurry of McCurry’s Strawberry Farm off N.C. 27 West. “I don’t know why, but they are.”
North Carolina is the fourth largest producer of strawberries, behind California, Florida and Oregon; the latter grows strawberries primarily for processing.
From California, a strawberry travels an average of 2,600 miles to North Carolina, which can take anywhere from three to seven days.
Florida has a shorter trip of 800 to 1,000 miles, and those strawberries usually arrive within 24 hours.
Still, many people think there’s just something better about a strawberry picked fresh off the vine. This year’s berries are expected to be especially delicious.
“We’ve got a real good crop, probably one of the best crops we’ve had in years,” said Crotts. “It’s just been a perfect growing season and we have plenty of strawberry ice cream to go along with our strawberries.”
Everyone has a different favorite way to eat a strawberry — in strawberry shortcake or strawberry pie, in salads or eaten all by itself.
“I eat strawberries anyway I can,” said McCurry. “Strawberries are good anyway you fix them.”
Most people eat strawberries for the taste, but they have more than that to offer.
“They’re really good for you,” said Patsy Lineberger of Lineberger’s Berry Hill Farm in Iron Station.
What makes them so good?
“There are a lot of big words I’ve looked up on the Internet,” she said. “They have phytochemicals in them including antioxidants. They help with things like preventing certain kinds of cancers and helping to keep you cholesterol in line. There’s just lots and lots of benefits to them.”
Berries have been listed by the Mayo Clinic as being one of the “10 gotta-have foods.” Blueberries are getting a lot of attention these days, but strawberry lovers think their favorite fruit has as much to offer.
“Several years ago they did a study on blueberries, and that’s been publicized a lot,” said Lineberger. “But they’re just now starting to look into strawberries and blackberries, and I think we’re going to hear a lot more about that in the coming years.”by Sarah Grano

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