Berry-licious

A new hot n’ sweaty date idea this summer

TIA KUTSCHERA FOX // OPINIONS EDITOR

Summer is a great time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors of Vancouver: kayaking, hiking, picnics, markets, festivals and of course, everything beach-related are all summertime staples for most Vancouverites. But there’s a traditional summertime activity that doesn’t get enough love. Many farms around Greater Vancouver offer “U pick” services, where people bring their own buckets and pick their own fruit. When the weather gets hot and the sun stays out for longer than three days, I know it’s time for blueberry picking. It’s a fun, hot, sweaty, and rewarding activity that gives the ultimate bang for your berry-loving buck. Why do all the work when you can just pay someone to do it? $2.50 per pound, that’s why! If you go to a grocery store and buy a carton of raspberries, you pay $4.99 for 170 grams. For the same price, say at Emma Lea Farms, you could get two pounds of raspberries! Bonus, you can also brag that you gathered them yourself like our ancestors of old. However, prices do differ based on the berry, so keep that in mind.

While this activity is far from sweat-proof, berry picking is actually an ideal date, especially if you’ve already done the standard movies, beach, and hiking dates. According to Psychology Today, doing physical activity with someone can increase the emotional bond, because, “When you work out together, you create a context in which you can coordinate your actions.” Working towards a goal together instantly gives you something in common whether it’s a first date or a 300th date, and to top it off, most of the farms offer treats like ice cream, a fantastic reward after a couple hours of work. Not to mention you get your dose of Vitamin D and might even get a tan.

If you do go picking and decide to research your options before embarking, you may come across some delightful information. For example, the BC Blueberry Council is a thing that actually exists. It’s still unclear exactly what they do or where they meet or if they all bring blueberries and fight over who’s berries are better. Their website does provide some blueberry fun facts. The most shocking fact for me was that blueberries are low fat. They also have a fresh versus frozen showdown, which goes to show that our Blueberry Council is keeping things real (spoiler alert, fresh and frozen have the same nutritional value which means this summer is an excellent time to try your own frozen blueberry cocktails).

According to Familyfuncanada.com, which is another thing that exists, there are 19 U-Pick berry farms around Metro Vancouver. There are some things to watch out for, and policies are different farm-to-farm. For example, some only take cash or debit, and hours range from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. all the way to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., so it’s best to call ahead and get the info. Some farms don’t even open until June, while some are open right now. This is based on what berries the farms offer, because they don’t all grow at the same time. Strawberries and currants come first in June to mid July, then come raspberries and blueberries around July 1 for about a month, and lastly blackberries start popping up around August. Farms open right now offer plants like rhubarb.

So when you’re planning for this summer, give berry picking a try. It’s great for families, friends, or couples, and you get to eat everything afterwards. What more could you want.

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