March 21 is National California Strawberry Day, a seriously under appreciated food holiday. Why is it so under appreciated? Because the state of California alone produces 87 percent of strawberries consumed in North America, and this popular fruit shines in everything from refreshing smoothies to decadent desserts, all while packing in plenty of nutrients. 

UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program

strawberry, berry, sweet, pasture
Becky Hughes

UC Davis students have even more reason to to celebrate National California Strawberry Day, as 60 percent of the world’s strawberries are grown from plants developed at UCD. The University’s Strawberry Breeding Program was established in the 1930s, and since its inception the program has developed over 30 varieties of strawberries.

Their mission, according to the program’s website, is to “develop new, commercially useful varieties of strawberry plants that have higher quality berries, are less vulnerable to pests and diseases and can be grown more efficiently.” In particular, the program is dedicated to supporting California strawberry farmers by providing benefits such as lower prices and early access to new plant varieties.

Nutritional Benefits of Strawberries

Strawberries are a great source of many vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Most notably, however, a 100g serving provides 100% of a person's recommended daily value of vitamin C. They are also one of the fruits with the highest concentration of folate, packing 24mcg into a 100g serving. In addition, strawberries contain many beneficial phytochemicals, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can help prevent oxidative stress-related diseases

Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Basil Avocado Wrap from Fit Mitten Kitchen

Katherine Weltzien

Think strawberries don't have a place in savory meals? This fresh, flavorful wrap will change your mind. The strawberries add a burst of fresh sweetness that balances out the rich, creamy goat cheese and avocado.

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles from Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

ice, popsicle, strawberry
Rachel Linder

Chocolate covered strawberries are such a fun treat, and it turns out they're even better in popsicle form! This easy recipe only requires three ingredients, and the strawberry flavor really takes center stage.

Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie from Baked Greens

Katherine Weltzien

If you can never decide between a bowl of oatmeal or a smoothie for breakfast, this recipe is perfect for you! Hearty oats combine with fruity, refreshing strawberries for this creative breakfast.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry, and Banana Quesadillas from Ambitious Kitchen

Katherine Weltzien

This sweet take on a quesadilla is a great way to enjoy all the deliciousness of a classic PB & J in a fun new form. Plus, the whole grain tortilla and fresh fruit provide plenty of fiber, making this quesadilla a filling breakfast or snack.

This National California Strawberry Day, be sure to treat yourself to one of these delicious strawberry recipes (or a big bowl of fresh strawberries). And while you do so, take a moment to appreciate the UC Davis scientists and California farmers that make it possible for us to enjoy these sweet, juicy berries and nourish ourselves with plenty vitamin C and phytochemicals.