Experience In Season
We’re walking in the woods and he’s spotted some black raspberries. For weeks he’s been eagerly watching the green buds turn from yellow to pink to red. He’s asked every day knowing full well that deep purple means they’re ready.
I smile. “It’s time.”
Of course the first several berries don’t make it in the pail, but go directly in his and our dog Echo’s mouths.
“Mmm, it’s good,” he gives the thumbs up.
So good in fact that we spend more than two and half hours collecting berries. And that’s the thing isn’t it? We always forget how good the real, fresh stuff tastes. Somehow as autumn slips into winter and fresh local varieties are replaced by less and less flavorful substitutes. It happens so slowly we’re lulled into believing I’m still eating a “real” produce.
Did you know that some super market apples are more than a year old when we buy them? Yuck! The bottom line is most commercial fruits and vegetables are clones. That’s how Fugi Apples and Bosc Pears look so flawless and symmetrical. Instead of good old fashioned pollination most commercial companies use cloned plants to replicate perfection.
Sure real food might not be as pretty, but there’s something to be said for unique and oh the flavor! Fruits and veggies taste better when they’re ripe and in season and they’re better for us.
Steuben County has some of the best fresh eating experiences around. No I’m not referring to restaurants (though we do have some really awesome places). I mean the real up close and personal, total food emersion events like gathering your own food. There’s a certain sweetness that comes with the experience of picking your own food. Not only is there satisfaction in the success of gathering your own food, but in the personal interactions of doing so with family and friends. It is to be a bit cliché, the stuff memories are made of.
So where can these kinds of opportunities be found in Steuben County? For starters, berry season is upon us. Strawberries are coming to a close, but there are still plenty of blackberries and black raspberries growing like wild, in the wild. With a keen eye you can easily spot them around the county in the woods, along the side of the highway, and down country roads. Just be sure to ask permission before you start gathering the juicy goodness.
There are also some commercial u-pick sites with raspberries and blueberries. Not to mention the u-pick orchards will be opening with peaches and apples. And it won’t be long before several more will spring up with pumpkins and other late summer favorites.
If you’d rather not pick your own but still crave fresh homegrown goodies, there’s always the corn from the College Fund. The fresh, locally grown corn can be found at several roadside stands around the county. Of course there are also always the Angola (Wed & Sat 8-noon) and Fremont Farmer’s Markets (Sat 8-noon).
Some local produce experience stops around the area include Bakers Acres & GW Stroh in Angola and Walters Lake Berry & Plant Farm in Fremont.