Meatless Monday: The Start of Strawberry Season!

WARNING: I start out with a bigger-picture strawberry-related rant on this post. If you just want a vegan strawberry scone recipe without that, scroll down until you see a picture.

This weekend my Farmers Market delivered a wonderful Easter present to me–the first Farmers Market strawberries of the season! This is a BIG thing for me and our family. We LOVE to eat fresh strawberries! So that alone makes us very happy. But there is also a larger perspective to our strawberry celebration.

One of the great contributions to reducing our Carbon Foodprint, besides eating more plant-based meals, is to eat seasonally. That is, to base our meals about what is growing locally at that time. This is how we all used to eat. However, modern technology has made it possible to get food shipped from all over the world, so we can get our favorite fresh produce almost any time during the year.

However, there is a big environmental cost to that. The Carbon Foodprint of getting things shipped up from Mexico or Chile or Australia is MUCH greater than our local farmers driving their trucks of food 50 miles or less to bring it to our Farmers Market.

I’ll be honest; I don’t eat totally local food, totally seasonally. I use a lot of coconut products, and probably an avocado every week or so, which just can’t grow in North Carolina…and those are just the first examples that come to mind. However, I really make an effort to eat as seasonally as I can. Just ask my family how many kale-based meals we’ve had in the past few months, when that is one of the few plants available over the winter…

The one thing I’m pretty strict about is that we only eat local natural or organic strawberries. This is for several reasons:
1. The environmental impact of shipping mentioned above

2. Strawberries are pretty consistently the #1 item on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) “Dirty Dozen” list, which ranks what fruits and vegetables are most likely to contain pesticide residues. According to USDA strawberry tests, 99% of conventional strawberry samples contained pesticide residues.

So if you are only going to indulge in buying one fruit in the organic section, strawberries should probably be your first choice. You also need to realize that many of the organic products, particularly in the cheaper stores, are from foreign countries. However, there is no international agreement about what it takes to label a food as organic. I don’t know if this is still the case, but a few years ago when I investigated how one national “bargain” food store was able to offer organic food at such a cheap price, I discovered it was because almost all its organic food came from China. I have no idea what the Chinese requirements are for a food to be labeled organic. I only know that at the Farmers Market, I can talk to the farmers and ask them specifically; most of my main producers, I’ve even been to their farms and seen their operations My point is that I don’t trust all strawberries, or any other products, labeled as organic.

3. Those strawberries that are shipped up from Mexico or Chile or wherever (I’m not shaming particular countries) have to be picked when they are sturdy enough to be shipped for thousands of miles. They survive their travels, but how good are they when they get up here? It may depend on batch or strawberry preference. But as for me, I don’t think those shipped strawberries taste like even the same food as our local, ripe, sweet strawberries.

THAT is why my approach is when strawberries are in season, we gorge ourselves on them. And when they are done, that’s it for fresh strawberries until next year. I do use organic frozen strawberries, especially local store brands, which generally have a lower foodprint. But this increases our anticipation for the return of strawberries every spring.

This year, the strawberries arrived on Easter weekend, helping to mitigate all the fun traditions that we had to miss due to our social distancing. We got a plat Saturday morning, and ate lots of raw berries that day.

Easter morning, I baked some strawberry scones for our special breakfast .

As an attempt to be not only Earth friendly, but animal friendly, I decided to adapt a recipe to make them vegan scones, along with being gluten-free. Here is how I made them:

  1. First wash and dice into small pieces 2 cups of strawberries.
  2. Then mix 1/2 cup of canned coconut cream with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and set the combination aside.
  3. Stir together:
    1. 2 cups of non-gluten flour,
    2. 1/3 cup coconut sugar (regular sugar is fine, but since I had it, I wanted to ramp up the coconut flavor),
    3. 1 tablespoon baking powder,
    4. 1 teaspoon salt,
    5. 1 tablespoon of Penzeys Cake Spice mix (otherwise, use your favorite among cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc. … Penzeys is just my FAVE)
  4. After mixing the dry ingredients, turn the oven on to 425 degrees.
  5. Next take one 8 tablespoon bar of the Earth Balance baking sticks and cut it into the flour mixture until it is supposed to look like peas (according to the original recipe–I wouldn’t say that it looked like that. But I mixed it as well as I good).
  6. Mix in the strawberries and juice and add the coconut cream. Stir them up and let them rest together for a few minutes.
  7. After a few minutes, flour the surface with gluten-free flour. Then knead, adding GF flour as needed, until it is, as the recipe says, “satiny and smooth.”
  8. Once dough reaches that consistency, pat it into an 8-inch round. Allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes.
  9. Cut the round into 8 wedge-sized pieces.
  10. Separate the pieces on the baking sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch space between each.
  11. Bake in preheated oven until tops are light brown and crusty, 16 to 18 minutes.
  12. Take them out and try to let them cool off enough before you burn your tongue…which I only say because I’ve done it myself.

I will be adding some more related Meatless Monday recipes soon. This is just an example that Meatless Monday can also be part of the day before, especially if it was a holiday. The rest of our meals today were just kind of boring vegetarian leftovers, so we are showcasing the most novel of the things we have been noshing on today.



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