A Rose in the Salad Bowl

Do you know of the fruit that has the title as “Queen of Fruits”?

It is a heart-shaped fruit that tantalizes your senses in the fragrance of a rose’s aroma and the juicy sweetness of the most popular berry in the world. It is mouth-watering, bright pink to shiny, deep red when ripe, and beautifully green to white when still young.

This famous fruit is no other than the banner fruit of La Trinidad, Benguet that is celebrated in a month-long festival every year in March – the strawberry. Last March, the municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet had just celebrated this sweet scented festival symbolizing the fertility of the Salad Bowl of the Philippines.

 

Straw Frenzy

Folktales say that the word strawberry was derived from the phrase ‘‘straws of berry’’ since originally, children pick these ‘berries’ and sell them tied in straws, hence the term strawberry.

However, according to draxe.com, strawberry got its name from the stacks of straw which were piled around the plants as protection from rodents and pests. Since during the olden times, plasticulture or the use of plastics as mulch was not yet renowned like how it is commonly used now in strawberry farms in La Trinidad.

 

Unbelievably Amazing Facts

Have you ever wondered why strawberries smell like roses? Well, that is because it belongs to the rose family. Strawberry belongs to the Rosacea (rose) family. Moreover, both roses, apples, and strawberries belong to the genus fragaria (from the Latin word fragola or fragrance) which explains why all of these smell so great.

Strawberries first grew in some parts of France and Italy as early as 234 BC. Now, there are more than 600 varieties of strawberry with the following as among the most popular types: Evangeline, Sable, Annapolis, Earliglow, Allstar, Mesabi, Sparkle, and Jewel.

Strawberry is not a real a berry. It does not even belong to the berry family. Berries have their seeds inside them while strawberries have its seeds outside its skin. More than 200 seeds adorn outside what we call as the strawberry fruit.

However, what we eat and call as the strawberry fruit is not the real strawberry fruit. It is but an enlarged receptacle that holds the real strawberry fruits. This is why strawberry is labeled as the queen of fruits by some scientists and botanists.

 

Nutritional Benefits

According to Gene Casibang, a farmer in the Benguet State University strawberry farms in La Trinidad, tourists buy strawberries not only for its taste but also for its health benefits. Indeed, strawberry is quoted to be a super fruit by various health agencies such as the World Health Foods.

Worlds Healthiest Foods posted in their website that strawberries contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A (beta carotene), Vitamin B6, Manganese, folate, fiber, iodine, copper, and potassium. These are among the essential nutrients needed by our body in order for our systems to function properly.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk, an author, activist, and health editor of Canada’s health publication – the Viva Magazine, said that one cup or 8-9 medium sized strawberries contain more than 100 % of our daily recommended intake of Vitamin C. A recent study showed that when taken in times of stress, Vitamin C can help to decrease blood pressure to a normal level, thus preventing development of hypertension.

Aside from being a great source of fiber that improves digestive system and bowel movement, strawberries are also high in antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and contribute to blood sugar regulation, has anti-cancer benefits, and has cardiovascular benefits. It also contains anthocyanin which is an antioxidant that protects us from radical damage. Thus, helping prevent skin cancer.

A  2013 study published in Circulation, a scientific journal that publishes articles and researches regarding cardiovascular diseases, found that three or more servings of strawberries and blueberries within a week reduces the risk of heart attack. This is due to strawberries’ ability to suppress inflammatory responses of the body and reduce risk of hypertension by lowering LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol or the so called bad cholesterol that contributes to clogging arteries.

Strawberries also help replenish loss or lack of folate, a type of Vitamin B that helps cells to function properly and tissues to grow. Folate is also crucial in pregnancy as it helps prevent birth defects and anemia.

 

 

Strawberry in the Valley of Colors

The municipality of La Trinidad, which is sometimes called the valley of colors, yearly celebrates the sweet Strawberry festival. This festival showcases various strawberry varieties and products and likewise exemplified the fertility of the Salad Bowl of the Philippines. It is not only famous within the valley but also to the whole world.

La Trinidad is given the titles “Strawberry Country” and “The Strawberry Capital of the Philippines” due to the valley’s rich and wide production of the said plant. In a study, it was identified that Sweet Charlie and Aliso are popular strawberry varieties commonly planted by farmers in the municipality.

La Trinidad also holds a record in the Guinness World Book of Records for baking the world’s largest strawberry shortcake in March 2004.

In addition, the municipality holds a month long festival dedicated to strawberries wherein strawberries from fresh fruits to dried ones or processed such as jam, candies, crinkles, taho, ice cream, beer, and wine are showcased.

In this year’s annual strawberry festival, the municipality also showcased a new brand of wine from strawberries which is believed by many to be a global brand. Its brand name is La Trinidad, which is also the name of the municipality. It is to be marketed even abroad.

 

Despite not being a berry, strawberries are among the most known berries in the whole world as it is the favorite of not just children but also to lovers. Now, it has also become a legend not just in the Philippines that eating twin strawberries will make you stay for as long as you live with the other person who ate half of the berry that it drew more tourist to strawberry farms in the valley.

Mang Tony, a strawberry farmer in La Trinidad says that he will improve his strawberry farm since the demand for the fruit continues to increase and tourists keep on visiting them every now and then for fresh strawberry picking.

More than just a ‘rose’ in the salad bowl and a ‘berry’ in the valley, strawberry contributes in the income generation of La Trinidad as it keeps attracting tourists while its increased production boosts farmers’ profits.

If you have not yet visited the valley’s colorful strawberry farms, come and visit soon and see for yourself the ‘rose’ in the Salad Bowl of the country and experience picking it yourself. #VictoriaMagastino_DevelopmentStory

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