Earlier this week I noticed that Quebec raspberries in my local fruit and veggie shop. “It’s only June!”, I thought. Usually it’s mid-July before I get the sweet taste of local raspberries. Blame it on the sun. Like the strawberries that started to appear in May, the raspberries are coming in early too. Rumour has it that blueberries aren’t far behind.
During the summer months I nearly always have Quebec berries out to nibble on. I like them fresh and they make a great quick snack. From a nutritional perspective, berries are packed with antioxidants, which protect against cell damage, and fibre, which helps you feel full. They have a low glycemic index, which means they don’t spike your blood sugar. As well quite a few studies have linked consumption of fresh berries with cardiovascular health and memory.
Unfortunately all is not succulent with berries. They tend to have fairly high pesticide residues. This is partly due to their thin skins, but also because some berry farms use a fair amount of chemical. I briefly looked into pesticides on Quebec strawberries a few years ago and found that not all producers leave enough time between spraying and picking, which also increases pesticide residue.
There are organic producers in Quebec, but only a handful that I could find (see below). Until I see local and organic or low spray berries at the market, I’m happy to eat the conventionally-farmed ones. The season is so short, and the berries are so sweet.
If you want to pick your own berries, you can consult the U-Pick directory for strawberries and raspberries at Les Fraiches du Quebec. It only includes farms that pay to be part of the Association des producteurs de fraises et de framboises du Québec, so it doesn’t include some smaller family operations like Ferme du Ruisseau Fleuri, an organic blueberry and raspberry U-Pick farm in Frelighsburg.
Similarly, the blueberry producers site has a list of blueberry growers, although it is also lacking. Notably it doesn’t list La Colline Aux Bleuets organic U-pick and B&B in Dunham (I’ve stayed there. It’s fabulous!), or the pesticide-free Au Fin Délice in Rigaud.
If you know of any organic berry farm stalls or U-Pick farms, please let me know so I start a list and make it available on the website.
Finally, once you have your berries, here are some refreshing recipe ideas. Of course, you can always eat them fresh too!
- Simple Strawberry Popsicles from The Mindful Table
- White Chocolate Basil Mousse with Strawberry Parfait from The Herb Companion
- Strawberry Salsa from One Perfect Bite
- Gluten-Free Vegan Raspberry Streusal Bars from Elana’s Pantry
- No-bake Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes from My Baking Addiction
- Fresh Raspberry Lemonade from Amanda’s Cookin’
- Blueberry Chutney and Pork Chops from Talk of Tomatoes
- Blueberry Cobbler from Gourmet
Do you enjoy Quebec berries? What is your favourite thing about them?Photo Credit: I snagged this from the Occupy Honolulu Facebook Page. I’m trying to track down the original credit.