There’s been a lot of talk about how strange the winter has been this year – dry and unseasonably warm on the west coast and extremely cold everywhere else. In fact, it’s been warmer in Alaska than in the middle of the country! Strange, indeed: Record warmth, confused plants: An Alaska January to remember.
And while we’re used to mild weather here in California, we are not used to having virtually no rain in what has always been the wettest time of the year. It is apparently the driest it’s been here since the 1890s: Behind California’s January Wildfires: Dry Conditions, Stubborn Weather Pattern.
I have been surprised to see all the fresh strawberries in the stores lately. Strawberries in January? I don’t remember this being the case before. They look so lovely though, I decided to buy some yesterday. And they are as sweet and juicy as they generally are in the summer, what gives? Is it the strange weather?
I decided to do some research.
Well, first I found this: Strawberries in winter? Welcome to franken-season – Producers and supermarkets are weakening our link with the natural world. This article talks about how “researchers have been able to grow strawberries in mid-winter using a combination of blue and red LED lighting, which tricks the plants into thinking it’s spring. Such lights artificially extend the hours of daylight in the nursery’s greenhouses, and plants that would have died back in autumn carry on producing fruit through the winter.” This doesn’t sound good. But wait – this is in the UK; I am talking about California!
And more talk about the weather: What’s with this wacky weather? Hot is cold and cold is hot. But – “It’s not actually that unusual,” says Roger Edwards, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center at the National Weather Service.
And – January Hasn’t Been As Cold As You Think: Many Americans may be freezing now, but the data shows January hasn’t been that frigid.
OK, but what about strawberries?
And here is where I learned something:
Apparently, California has been producing strawberries year-round for a long time.
Because we do have plenty of warm weather in parts of the state, even in the winter – and so why not? And why I never realized this before, I can’t imagine, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought strawberries this time of year – maybe thinking they couldn’t be that good if it isn’t summer. Silly me. I love strawberries. I could certainly eat them all year long – I was cheating myself through my ignorance! (And I’m sure it isn’t the first time.)