top of page

Why have strawberries lost their taste?

Authors: (The Guardian, 2006)


"Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did." From this we might glean that Samuel Butler was speaking some time before the rise of the insipid supermarket strawberry, that annual disappointment to anyone old enough to remember the days of the Cambridge Vigour, or the happy Hapil and Honeoye berries. And that's before we start to hymn the flavour of wild strawberries picked from hedgerows that, I have it on sacred trust, infused the palates of the nation's pre-war young.

The taste of youth is, alas, something we are all fated to lose, however reluctantly, but the loss of our fruity heritage was less naturally dictated. It has been achieved largely by the unfettered expansion of big business. As the supermarkets' power to dictate requirements to growers has increased, the range of almost all foodstuffs has diminished. In the case of the strawberry, only those capable of providing high yields and good "shipping qualities" - ie the ability to withstand being banged about while racking up air miles and carbon emissions - have survived. With the consistent unfairness of life, it turns out that making soft fruit tough enough to withstand air-freighting is not compatible with making them flavoursome.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page