Strawberries have just come in season, and people canâ€™t get enough.
â€œYou canâ€™t keep them on the shelves,â€ said Jeff Crotts, who runs Knob Creek Orchard and Creamery in west Lincoln. â€œWe run out everyday.â€
The season wonâ€™t peak until mid-May, but that doesnâ€™t mean people arenâ€™t getting their fill now.
â€œItâ€™s the first fresh fruit of the season and I think everyone loves strawberries,â€ said Crotts.
Sure, people can buy strawberries at their local supermarket, but thereâ€™s something special about getting them fresh from the farm.
â€œTheyâ€™re just better when they come from around here,â€ said Ken McCurry of McCurryâ€™s Strawberry Farm off N.C. 27 West. â€œI donâ€™t know why, but they are.â€
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 thereâ€™s just something better about a strawberry picked fresh off the vine. This yearâ€™s berries are expected to be especially delicious.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a real good crop, probably one of the best crops weâ€™ve had in years,â€ said Crotts. â€œItâ€™s just been a perfect growing season and we have plenty of strawberry ice cream to go along with our strawberries.â€
Everyone has a different favorite way to eat a strawberry â€” in strawberry shortcake or strawberry pie, in salads or eaten all by itself.
â€œI eat strawberries anyway I can,â€ said McCurry. â€œStrawberries are good anyway you fix them.â€
Most people eat strawberries for the taste, but they have more than that to offer.
â€œTheyâ€™re really good for you,â€ said Patsy Lineberger of Linebergerâ€™s Berry Hill Farm in Iron Station.
What makes them so good?
â€œThere are a lot of big words Iâ€™ve looked up on the Internet,â€ she said. â€œThey have phytochemicals in them including antioxidants. They help with things like preventing certain kinds of cancers and helping to keep you cholesterol in line. Thereâ€™s just lots and lots of benefits to them.â€
Berries have been listed by the Mayo Clinic as being one of the â€œ10 gotta-have foods.â€ Blueberries are getting a lot of attention these days, but strawberry lovers think their favorite fruit has as much to offer.
â€œSeveral years ago they did a study on blueberries, and thatâ€™s been publicized a lot,â€ said Lineberger. â€œBut theyâ€™re just now starting to look into strawberries and blackberries, and I think weâ€™re going to hear a lot more about that in the coming years.â€by Sarah Grano