We are really excited about the local, organic strawberries. At a recent meeting I attended, I brought over one package each of the local and California strawberries.
Here are few noted differences:
Price: The local strawberries are more expensive. This is a complicated issue and I don’t really know all the real reasons why we need to pay more for the local. I think it is a mix of contributing factors. The strawberries from California are grown on a much larger scale with a greater level of automation (less labor), and are being transported using cheap fossil fuel.
Maybe the biggest factor is supply. There is a limited amount of local organic strawberries grown in New England. In New England, it is very risky and challenging to grow strawberries following organic certified practices. Strawberries are very susceptible to all sorts of problems from insects and moisture. If you’ve been to a farmer’s market recently, you’ll notice that most farmers have no problem selling their strawberries whether they are organic or not. Many farmers understandably have little incentive to risk jeopardizing their strawberries with the limited certified organic options available for protecting them.
Texture: There is a noticeable difference in texture. The variety from California is “meatier” than the local I don’t think there is anything wrong with the texture of the California strawberry, it is just different. They are clearly grown to be transported and withstand the vibrations and shaking that accompany a cross-country trip.
Flavor: The California strawberries this week are very sweet, sweet like sugar. The local variety we are handing out have a different, more complex taste; maybe not as sweet, but are very flavorful with a slight tartness. One can argue that the local strawberries taste more like strawberries. In the group I was with, most preferred the flavor of the local ones.
Given the level of interest of the local, organic strawberries, I am confident, we will have more available next year. I plan to actively engage our network of growers and see if I can “secure” some strawberries ahead of time.