As an Ambassador for Canada Food Facts for Consumers, I am passionate about promoting the incredible flavors and stories behind Canadian produce. One of my favourites that captures the essence of Canadian summer is strawberries.
Strawberry harvesting is a labor-intensive process, since the fruit needs to be hand-picked at peak ripeness. Commercial farms often employ skilled workers who carefully harvest the strawberries to ensure minimal damage to the fruit.
Picking your own strawberries is a fun activity and brings you closer to the food you eat. Strawberry farms are filled with rows and rows of bushes, and the air is filled with the smell of ripe strawberries. Armed with a basket, you head out into the field and search for strawberries with the perfect shape and texture. You get a sense of personal satisfaction leaving with a basket of fresh strawberries, picked by your own hands at the height of freshness.
For me, this has been a family tradition from my childhood. Around the Canada Day long weekend, my mother, sister and I would head to a local farm and pick our own strawberries. That afternoon, my mom would make a strawberry shortcake, and we would have it for dessert for the next few days.
This year, I went to the Richmond Nursery, the longest running strawberry grower in Eastern Ontario. The Richmond Nursery was founded in 1958 with its first strawberry crop. They sell pre-picked strawberries from a farm stand, or you can pick your own. They pride themselves on using traditional and hands-on techniques that produce high quality strawberries with the best flavour.
One of the benefits of opting for local strawberries is reducing our carbon footprint. By minimizing transportation distances, we lessen the environmental impact associated with long- haul shipping. Choosing locally grown produce, including strawberries, demonstrates our commitment to supporting sustainable food systems and preserves our environment.
Strawberries are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese, folate, and antioxidants. They are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a healthy choice for snacking or incorporating into various recipes. I love using strawberries in smoothies, for baking, for snacking, or in a bowl with Greek yogurt and granola.
Here is my mom’s strawberry shortcake recipe, from the Harrowsmith Cookbook:
This shortcake has a muffin-like texture and rough exterior—all the better to trap the whipped
cream and strawberries.
½ tsp. salt
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup soft shortening
1 egg, slightly beaten with enough milk to make 1 cup of liquid
½ tsp. vanilla
1 qt. strawberries, cleaned and hulled
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
Sift together salt, flour, baking powder and sugar. Cut in shortening with pastry blender. When
blended, add egg-milk mixture and vanilla. Mix only until flour is moistened. Spoon into a
greased 8-inch square pan, leaving dough in clumps.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool.
To serve, cut cake into 9 pieces, split each piece open and top with whipped cream and
Lisa Weagle is an Olympian and World Champion in curling. A lifelong Ottawa resident, she is a three-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion and won gold, silver, and bronze at the World Women’s Curling Championships. She represented Canada in the 2022 and 2018 Olympic Winter Games. She is a multiple all-star award winner, Scotties MVP, and a certified coach.