JEFF TIEDEMAN: Berry good eatsThese fruits offer benefits beyond taste.
What’s your favorite part of summer?
Perhaps, it’s heading to the lake to go swimming and fishing. Or maybe being able to play or catch a few ball games. Or just being able to go outside without a winter coat, cap and mittens.
I can relate to all of those reasons, but it is gardening that tops my list.
And speaking of gardening, I’m going to add another edible member of the plant world to my repertoire: strawberries, one of America’s most popular fruits.
Just a few short years ago, I started to successfully raise raspberries, which have become a hit at our house. Among other things, they have been used as topping for morning oatmeal as well as the main ingredient of some tasty freezer jam.
I’d never given much thought to raising strawberries even though having a fondness for them since my childhood, when Grandpa Menard grew them in his garden. His strawberries were his pride and joy.
I sometimes wish he was still alive, which would give me the opportunity to pick his brain about growing the tasty orbs, but a friend, Cindy Condon of East Grand Forks, could pick up the slack.
Cindy, who grew up in rural Kragnes, Minn., grew strawberries with her mother as a youngster, starting with 50 plants that turned into a couple of hundred. At their peak, the strawberries produced 50 quarts a day, which Cindy almost single-handedly picked.
Her strawberry-picking days came to an end in July 1975, when a summer flood fueled by several days of heavy rain destroyed the patch.
Cindy wasn’t too heartbroken about losing the strawberries. “I was sick of them,” Cindy said. “I didn’t want to see another strawberry for years.”
One reason I decided to grow strawberries is because like raspberries, they have health benefits in three major areas:
— Cardiovascular support and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
— Improved regulation of blood sugar, with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
— Prevention of certain cancers including breast, cervical, colon and esophageal.
A new study by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and researchers in China shows that eating strawberries may stop the progression of precancerous lesions in the esophagus.
That has special significance. On Tuesday, Hall-of-Famer and former Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew — one of my childhood heroes — died of esophageal cancer, just days after announcing that he had “exhausted his options” and was accepting hospice care.
I bet Harmon would have traded that knowledge for all of his 573 Major League home runs.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.