If you’re dying to travel to Monterey after watching Big Little Lies you’re not alone. Here’s my visitors guide to beautiful Monterey, California.
You know, my job is pretty awesome sometimes. I get to be creative every day, interact with cool people, and travel to really beautiful and interesting places. As I sit here and reflect on this most recent trip, I’m filled with gratitude.
Recently California Strawberries sent me to Monterey to learn about strawberry farming. These are always my favorite types of trips to take. Most people, myself included, are completely out of touch with how food is grown and produced. I bet 9 out of 10 people couldn’t tell you how strawberries grow let alone how they wind up in your fridge, and let me tell you, the route is surprising.
Did you know more strawberries are grown in California then anywhere else in the world?
We visited a strawberry farm outside of Monterey and met Victor Ramirez, a third generation strawberry farmer. The most shocking and wonderful thing I learned as soon as we stepped foot onto the farm was that strawberries are one of the only remaining crops that are planted, weeded and picked BY HAND.
Because of the way strawberries grow (multiple fruits at different ripenesses growing on the same plant) and because of their delicate nature, it’s nearly impossible for a machine to harvest only the ripe berries on a plant.
Not only are they picked by hand, but the picker is the ONLY person that touches that berry between the plant and you. Each picker places the berries directly inside the container you buy at the store. Each of these containers is already assembled into a case, which goes to refrigeration, and then to the retailer.
California strawberry farms create 70,000 jobs, investing 97 cents of every farm dollar back into the community. It’s really quite an amazing sight to see these pickers work.
While these practices seem sort of old fashioned in an era of technology, there is still incredible technology in place. Every single case is meticulously tracked. Each case is scanned and that info is stored, so that if there is ever some sort of contamination or food borne illness outbreak, it can be traced back to the specific case, on the specific farm, and the specific picker within 48 hours.
Seeing farming in action is a great reminder of how powerful nature is, how much influence farming practices have over the general population, and how much misinformation can hurt entire economies.
For example, strawberries have long been on the “dirty dozen” list, a list of non-scientifically proven claims about pesticide use. In fact, we learned a great deal about pesticide safety and regulations, and how stringent the state of California and the federal government is on safe farming practices.
While fruit and vegetable consumption has been on the decline because of safety concerns, in reality eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, even conventional ones (non-organic) could prevent nearly 20,000 case of cancer each year.
You can’t stop me from eating strawberries, and I have to say that beyond seeing farming in action, my second favorite part of this trip was the food! We enjoyed delicious strawberry-centric meals at Fandango and at the restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel in Monterey.
Outside of all our strawberry activities, I was able to stop into the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium which completely lived up to all the hype. I loved the kelp forest, the jellyfish and the otters. I highly recommend to anyone visiting the area.
I was also able to explore cannery row, do some shopping, and enjoy the stunning ocean views. Despite the cold weather, it really reminded me of being in San Diego again.
Thank you California Strawberries for the incredible trip! I hope to visit again soon.
My very best strawberry recipes