This June is no different. Strawberry season has arrived and we celebrated with our first strawberry shortcakes last weekend.
My local grocery store was selling lovely looking strawberries from California. They looked delicious and smelled even better, so in spite of them not being locally grown I decided to buy a two pound box for $4.89.
Guilt, however, got the best of me. How could I make our first strawberry shortcakes of the season with strawberries from California? Off I went to one of our local farms to see what the local strawberries were like.
The local strawberries were available, but comparatively VERY pricey at $6.50 a quart. I bought one quart which weighed in at 24 ounces. Hmm, 24 ounces for $6.50 compared to 32 ounces for $4.89. It didn't take a master's degree to figure out the local strawberries were expensive. They must be better, though, right?
Well, I decided to test that assumption since I had a container of strawberries from California to compare with our locally grown berries.
First, a visual inspection. I noticed that some of the locally grown berries were irregular in shape.
Irregular shape is not necessarily a bad thing. It just told me that the berries had been allowed to grow as nature intended.
Next I cut the berries open to compare the texture and color.
The local strawberry, on the left, was solid and red all the way through, while the California strawberry had some hollowness in it's white center. Which berry do you think has the better taste?
Based on the visual inspection I expected the local strawberries to have superior flavor when compared to the California strawberries. Did you think the same? I'm sorry to say that local did not win out in this taste test. The California strawberries were superior in flavor. Sweet and delicious, once I ate one California strawberry I had to eat another...and another...and another.
Unfortunately, friends, in this case locally grown was not the best for flavor or price. I was surprised. I expected the locally grown berries to be better. Neither of the berries was organic, so I can't comment on the degree of pesticides used in growing these berries. This comparison is based only on price and taste. Other factors, such as energy consumed in transportation were also not considered.
I'll continue to seek out wonderful locally grown produce, but based on this strawberry comparison I won't automatically assume local is always better. As with most purchases, it is important to be a discerning consumer, even at the farmers' market.
Tomorrow, I'll share my strawberry shortcake recipe. Yum!