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Why Your Strawberries Might Be Picked By Robots Soon

Farmers are having a hard time keeping up with demand.

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

We often associate strawberries and strawberry-picking with warm, sunny days. Whether you buy them at the grocery store, farmers market, or simply grown your own, there's just nothing quite as pleasant as biting into a ripe strawberry. 

Picking them may seem just as easy as eating them—after all, every year, families go to u-pick-style farms to do just that, and seasonal workers pick the vast majority of berries commercially available. However, many farmers are reporting a rising demand for fresh fruit, but are finding it difficult to meet that demand due to a shortage of workers. This means that the unpicked fruit is going to waste.

The Future of Strawberry Picking

The Future of Strawberry Picking

As reported by NPR last year, one company is trying to change this trend with artificial intelligence. A company called Harvest CROO Robotics is developing a robot that can pick fragile strawberries with the same (or better) speed and accuracy as humans. The robots use a mix of GPS, high-definition cameras, and robotic claws to navigate between rows of strawberries, locate the berries, and pick them.

But, things aren't quite so simple. Amongst the problems they cite are the fact that robots have a hard time grasping the ripe strawberries without damaging them, and strawberries don't grow in straight lines across the plants—meaning the robots have to look for them. They're also not nearly as quick as human workers. 

Harvest CROO remains optimistic that with a few tweaks to their programming, robots will soon be able to help with the shortage of human workers in strawberry fields. Who knows, in only a few years time, strawberries harvested by robots just might be the new normal.



Want more? Here's How Technology is Influencing Food.

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Chef Tips and Tricks

VIDEO: Rustic Cherry Tart

Craving sweet? This rustic cherry tart is easy, quick and delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shortcrust pastry
  • 3 cups / 750 g. of cherries
  • 1/3 cup / 60 g. of sugar
  • 2/3 cup / 60 g. of almond flour
  • 4 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • Pistachios
  • A dash of milk

METHOD: 

  1. Mix the cherries and sugar together. Let stand 20 minutes.
  2. Spread or roll out the shortcrust pastry, sprinkle with almond powder and brown sugar.
  3. Place the cherries in the center of the dough, leaving about 2 inches of free dough on the edges. Fold in the edges.
  4. Brush with milk (this will make the crust go golden), sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F/180°C.
  5. Top with a handful of chopped pistachios, and serve!

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