Friday, May 26, 2006

The perfect strawberry

click photo to enlarge
This little flower will, strong winds and wild birds permitting, turn into a small strawberry about the size of the nail on your little finger. And the taste of that small strawberry will be beyond compare! It's an alpine strawberry that grows in my garden, both where I want it, and self-seeding where it fancies. The plant isn't far removed from the wild strawberries that grow in the woods and hedgerows near where I live.

The other day a young colleague was eating the largest strawberries I've ever seen in my life - they were massive, each requiring three or four bites to finish it off. I asked her what they tasted like, and she replied that they didn't have much taste at all. That was an interesting response because it showed that her sense of taste and discrimination was still intact. The fruit must have been intensively grown in some foreign field, air-freighted into the UK, and rushed by refrigerated lorry to the supermarket to be sold as quickly as possible. For what? So that people would be attracted by the size, the producer, shipper and retailer would make some money, and the customer would be disappointed by the taste.

But, many will be delighted by them, for the simple reason that they have never been offered anything better. Despite the increased popularity of organic produce, appearance is still all in food, and the biggest, brightest, most blemish-free is often the shopper's choice, even if it it tastes like corrugated cardboard. It's ironic, isn't it, that at a time when many in the west need to be eating less, size, rather than quality, is still being used to attract the buyer.

I used a macro lens to take the photograph of this small flower which is about 15mm in diameter. The shallow depth of field separated it from the background of serrated leaves, and shows both its simple cinquefoil beauty and all that is necessary to produce a great tasting strawberry.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen