Louisiana strawberry season is back in full color, which means creamy cakes topped with shiny red slices, slow-churned ice cream sprinkled with berry bits and lush green salads piled with slivers of strawberry goodness. But before the plate, before the kitchen of your neighborhood eatery, before even the farmers market where locally sourced produce is hand-selected, there’s the farm, where the berries spring up under deep green leaves and are plucked from the vine by hand. Just how fresh are your locally sourced strawberries? We followed the journey of a batch of strawberries from start to finish to find out.
IN THE FIELDS
Family-owned Morrow Farm in Ponchatoula has grown thousands of strawberries each season since its founding in 1859. Workers pick the best organically grown berries and sort them into pallets of pint-sized baskets for sale around the region.
TO THE MARKET
Eighth-generation farmer Eric Morrow loads up his truck around 4 a.m. to get his berries to Baton Rouge and set up in time for the Red Stick Farmers Market on Thursdays and Saturdays. He usually brings several hundred berries to market each time. Mary-Brennan Faucheux, produce picker for MJ’s Café, frequents the market to select the berries to be used in dishes.
IN THE KITCHEN
Known for its vegetarian and vegan fare, MJ’s Café sources everything from greens and berries to jellies and jams locally. Faucheux, a longtime employee-turned-righthand woman to owner Maureen Joyce, has prepared countless dishes with ingredients she pulls from local farms.
TO THE TABLE
MJ’s offers off-menu specials daily depending on what’s in season and what Faucheux’s latest buys have to offer. This strawberry salad, served up by MJ’s Stephen Lovell, comes packed with sunflower seeds and feta atop a bed of Fullness Organic Farm greens.
Find Morrow Farm on Facebook and MJ’s Café at mjs-cafe.com.