I’ve often realized the difference in taste between fresh vegetables from the farm (or farmers market) and those from the supermarket, and I realized that the distance they travel has a lot to do with the difference—including the need to pick fruits before they’re ripe. But I never realized that we’re also sacrificing taste for looks.
So where’s the flavor?
NPR’s The Salt blog breaks it down in simple terms that’s easy to understand: technology. The story focuses on California, which apparently supplies 80 percent of the country’s strawberries, and that percentage is only growing. In some obvious ways, perhaps this isn’t surprising, the state does have some productive fields, but it’s the advancement in technology that allows us to consume BIG, and bright, and delicious-looking produce.
Chances are, the strawberry you bought at the grocery store comes from a microscopic particle of plant tissue that was cut from a growing strawberry some year ago. That little piece of strawberry was placed in a petri dish, which grew into a new plant, which then sent out daughter plants, also called “runners,” which are clones of the mother plant.
All this in an effort to protect the strawberries from disease, like the Fusarium Wilt, a type of fungus that can obliterate strawberry yields.
To combat it, most strawberry growers fumigate the soil. Technology can be a wonderful thing. After all, it’s what allows us to grow insane amount of produce to feed the insane amount of people on the planet, but then compromises have to be made.
In this case, flavor.