Last week I was one berry lucky girl. I got to attend Driscoll’s University in Watsonville, California with a group of dietitians, health professionals, and Driscoll’s partners. We spent two days learning all about Driscoll’s history; growing practices; picking, packing and shipping practices; and how to spot the perfect strawberry. I have never eaten so many strawberries in my life, but I did it gladly! Everyone at Driscoll’s is so warm, welcoming, and passionate about berries. They’re all about delighting customers with their blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.
On our first day, we learned all about the company history and also visited the greenhouses and nursery. I had never seen such itty bitty berry plants before! It was actually a bit humbling, since it is rare I think about where my food comes from allllll the way back to the little seedling.
We also did a strawberry taste test. Did you know there are strawberry varieties just like apple varieties? Tasting them side-by-side tasting made all the difference, and the group had a clear favorite.
I loved learning about how Driscoll’s aims to grow the perfect strawberry that is juicy, sweet, and free of “seedy tips” and “green shoulders.” I’ve always hated those clusters of seeds at the bottom tip of strawberries but didn’t know it had a coined term!
On our second day, we headed out to the strawberry field for a friendly picking and packing contest. I teamed up with Katie, ready to pick with our rickety cart, 8 plastic clamshells to fill, and the sun beating down on us. It was mega hard work! I think we picked for 20 minutes before we filled every container and our backs were seriously sore from crouching down. Granted, things would have gone faster if we didn’t eat half the berries we picked (quality control!).
Driscoll’s has a “touch once” policy, which means the pickers literally touch the berries just once between the plant they’re picked from and the container they go into. That’s it. The next person to touch those berries is you! I was awestruck to see what a challenging, exhausting job it is to pick berries, and am even more grateful now knowing how much work goes into getting berries to my supermarket.
The dietitians and health professionals you may recognize, who I was lucky enough to spend two (or more) days with: Suzanne Farrell, Katie Cavuto Boyle, Tina Ruggiero, Carolyn Scott Hamilton, Janice Bissex, and Wendy and Jason Bazilian (not pictured here).
After a perfect few days with Driscoll’s in the berry fields (and along the Pacific Ocean), I headed to San Fran for the day where I got to stop by the Attune offices and have lunch with my Attune pals, and meet up with two other favorite RDs for Manuel Villacorta’s book signing. Whew! What a whirlwind week in Cali filled with lots of berries, dietitians, sun and FUN.
Want to see some more photos from my trip? Check them out on my Eat Well with Janel page!
Disclaimer: Driscoll’s paid for my trip and all expenses while attending Driscoll’s University.