The Herbivore: National Strawberry Month

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Did you know that May is National Strawberry Month?  Strawberries are synonymous with spring as they are usually the first fruit to ripen during the season. They are a truly versatile fruit and are used in recipes from morning breakfasts to late night desserts (S1). Their deep reddish coloring along with sweet and succulent composition make them one of the most adored fruits of all time. The history of the strawberry can be traced back thousands of years and it has been renowned for its look, taste, and medicinal purposes.

Wild Strawberries are as peculiar as their history. They are the only wild fruit to bear its seeds on the outside. Historical records of strawberries date back at least 2,200 years. Ancient Romans associated the fruit with many positive things including peace and prosperity (S2). Some cultures believed that the fruit could calm and soothe an angry or restless soul. A Cherokee legend paints the tale of a quarrel between the first man and woman. The husband had spoken harshly to his wife and watched as she stormed off. Unable to catch his lover he implored the Creator to slow her down. In an attempt to do so the Creator threw down various berries to grow along her path, but in her anger she did not notice them. Only after the Creator threw down strawberries did she notice the bounty of fruit around her. She stopped to pick and fill a basket and by the time her husband reached her all had been forgiven (S2). The early settlers in what is now Massachusetts enjoyed eating strawberries grown by Native Americans who had cultivated strawberries as early as 1643. Although the Europeans had been cultivating strawberries in the 1300’s, the first garden strawberry wasn’t bred until the 1750’s in Brittany France. This was done by cross-breeding a variety from Virginia and another from Chile (S2). This would be the beginning of the strawberries we know and love today.

The medicinal purposes of strawberries are both customary and scientific. The Ancient Romans again have a part to play in this story. They believed in the plants healing and medicinal properties, using the leaves to create medicines to alleviate depression and other like ailments, this is according to assistant professor Aaron Hostetter at Rutgers University-Camden (S2). After the fall of the Empire and into Medieval times strawberries persisted to be a sign of good health and living. Notions on nutrition of the times suggested the fruit was to be cooked in order to keep the body in its balance (S2). Going back to the homeland of the first garden strawberry, the French considered strawberries to be a member of the rose family. They believed the plant had aphrodisiacal properties. Arousing or intensifying desires for ones lovers, strawberry soup was often served to newlyweds (S2). Not surprisingly, many of the medicinal properties of strawberries seem to have much to do with their aroma and tastes. As we know, from research in the cannabis industry, terpenes give most organic fruits and flowers their aromas and tastes. Oddly enough in a scientific report on the aromas of strawberries it was concluded that terpenes only make up <10% of the fruits volatile organic compounds, but still may attribute to the sweet flavor and aroma of the fruit (S3). Myrcene would be the main terpene found in strawberries, hosting its sweet, fruity, red-grapelike aroma. It possesses a multitude of beneficial properties including antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxing effects (S4). Medical advancements have brought us a deeper understanding of the healing properties of the fruit. According to Medical News Today, strawberries contain powerful antioxidants that may work in opposition to free radicals, inhibiting tumor growth and decreasing inflammation in the body. They also are recommended to individuals with high blood pressure to help negate the effects of sodium in the body, due to their high potassium content (S5).

Strawberries seem to be rooted in the history of health and wellness. From helping those cope with depression, to relieving inflammation, and even lowering blood pressure the medicinal and psychological properties of this fruit are numerous. This makes it no wonder how they made their way into the names of such strains as our Strawberry Banana, Strawberry Purple Cookies, and our KAYA Strawnana vape cartridge. The sweet fruity flavors along with the many medicinal effects of the fruit’s terpenes seems to make it one of the more sought after delicacies in the cannabis industry for patients, dispensaries, and cultivators alike.

by Zachariah Finning