Even though straw­ber­ries are grown year-​round in Cal­i­for­nia, it seems like we appre­ci­ate them more when they are at peak of sea­son.

Inclement weather this year has kept us guess­ing as to when the robust strawberry-​producing regions around the state will see some good spring vol­umes.

From San Diego to Mon­terey (Watsonville/​Salinas), Cal­i­for­nia has sev­eral straw­berry vari­eties in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion. Each one has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, advan­tages and har­vest time.

Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia sci­en­tists have bred straw­berry qual­ity stan­dards for size, firm­ness, shelf life, yield, and resis­tance to dis­ease. By name, some vari­eties include Aro­mas, Camarosa, Camino Real, Chan­dler and Ven­tana.

Con­sumers usu­ally never see the vari­etal named, but we know what we like. Sup­ple, juicy, sweet-​tart berries that make us grate­ful for short­cake, waf­fles and chocolate.

Read more: Oh Berry! →

Every day is Earth Day in the demand­ing world of agri­cul­ture. Today’s farm­ers are keenly aware of the value of water, soil and clean air.

These irre­place­able assets are essen­tial to pro­vid­ing for our food secu­rity. Sus­tain­able farm­ing prac­tices con­nect the dots for farm­ers and the land and sur­round­ing nat­ural habi­tats.

The future of food and that of the planet are insep­a­ra­ble. What we choose to grow, how we grow it and what we want to eat in the future deeply influ­ence the nat­ural envi­ron­ment.

It’s been sug­gested that adopt­ing one of three (Mediter­ranean, pescatar­ian or veg­e­tar­ian) dietary plans would not only improve human health fac­tors (Type 2 dia­betes, can­cer and heart dis­ease) but would also pos­i­tively affect envi­ron­men­tal impact.

Data is stack­ing up to sup­port the links between diet-​health-​environmental challenges.

Read more: Earth Days →

Fresh pineap­ple can be cut, cored and peeled in a vari­ety of ways. Once we learn how, we adapt our meth­ods to how the fruit will be served.

A recent social media sen­sa­tion fea­tured a pineap­ple hack that had hun­dreds of thou­sands of pineap­ple lovers doubt­ing their tech­niques.

The Japan­ese Twit­ter share makes eat­ing pineap­ple as easy as peel­ing away each bite as if peel­ing away an arti­choke leaf.

There were many naysay­ers who went on to chal­lenge the hack with failed video ver­sions of pineap­ple rolling, cut­ting, carv­ing and pulling. It turns out, the smaller, snack pineap­ple ver­sions in the orig­i­nal video may be more accom­mo­dat­ing than what we typ­i­cally find in our local mar­kets.

In any event, its ter­rific to have such wide atten­tion paid to pineap­ples this time of year. Easter cel­e­bra­tions, along with upcom­ing grad­u­a­tions, Mother’s Day and other spring menus put pineap­ple in the spotlight.

Read more: Pineap­ple Glow →

Chan­nel surf­ing through the tele­vi­sion cook­ing shows usu­ally yields at least one good prac­ti­cal tip.

If its not about learn­ing some­thing new, then it def­i­nitely serves up a friendly reminder.

The use of fresh culi­nary herbs is one such recent prompt. Any recipe really comes alive with the power of fresh herbs.

How­ever sub­tle or heavy-​handed in use, herbs have the magic to trans­form any appe­tizer, entrée or dessert. Con­sider their astound­ing sen­sory appeal. Visual, taste and smell. Inhale.

Coin­ci­dence to the tele­vi­sion watch­ing week­end was atten­dance at a din­ner party of a really fan­tas­tic home cook. Full dis­clo­sure, she is an indus­try pro­fes­sional who knows her way around good food, excep­tional restau­rants and many signed cook books.

Read more: Culi­nary Heroes →

The word veg­etable is based on culi­nary and cul­tural tra­di­tions, not science.

Edi­ble plants used to make savory dishes are typ­i­cally con­sid­ered vegetables.

Herba­cious plants that have edi­ble leaves, stems, flow­ers, or roots all claim the veg­etable moniker.

We exclude some plants that bear fruits, nuts, legumes, pulses and grains. Iron­i­cally, we then arbi­trar­ily deem cour­gettes (squashes, pump­kins, cucum­bers, and the like) in the veg­gie group.

As Spring emerges, flow­ers are in bloom. There are some veg­eta­bles that tech­ni­cally are flow­ers too. We’re eager for them as the shift of sea­sons hails to locally-​sourced Cal­i­for­nia vegetables.

Aspara­gus– Cal­i­for­nia pro­duces more than sev­enty per­cent of the nation’s fresh mar­ket aspara­gus. Peak of sea­son depends entirely on weather. This flow­er­ing peren­nial blooms and sprouts on cue depend­ing on the elements.

Read more: Flower, Veg or Duo? →

Pitch­ers and catch­ers reported for duty mid-​February to attend early work­outs.

Spring train­ing gives spec­ta­tors a rea­son to break free from winter’s grip and look for­ward to baseball’s open­ing day games.

Hall­marks of tra­di­tional base­ball game snacks are peanuts and Cracker Jacks. The worry for those suf­fer­ing from peanut aller­gies does not melt away when they go to a ball game.

Enjoy­ing America’s favorite pas­time is get­ting to be a bit friend­lier towards those with adverse reac­tions to roasted peanuts. Sev­eral ball­parks offer ded­i­cated whole seat sec­tions, suites or even entire game days devoted to no peanuts allowed.

While no sta­dium can tout being com­pletely “peanut-​free”, being “peanut con­trolled” gives fam­i­lies some mea­sure of assurance.

Read more: Spring Training →