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British strawberries in March? I think I'll wait till May.

Fri, 3 March, 2017

Apparently the British strawberry season will now be starting in March. Due to the mild winters (or should it read ‘climate change’? one for Your Royal Highness: something good coming out of it AND happening in your Duchy gardens) and technological marvels in agriculture, strawbs will ripen as soon as they feel a touch of the foggy early spring sun, though through the glass darkly of course.

Good heavens.

I am going to be my usual grouchy self, complaining at what should be received with joy - no?

No, actually. I’ve been vocal time and time again about the loss of seasonality - we have asparagus from the darkest Peru available all year round and none the better off for it (it’s simply not flavoursome). We have South African apples weighing down shelves all year round so kids must be thinking apples are far out there with mangoes and kumquats. We no longer have to wait for April to have new season’s lamb; and no longer know that if eaten in January it will be hogget not lamb - New Zealand throws lamb our way whenever we want. Blueberries in March, tomatoes in January and pretty much the only things holding fort are game (because of legal restrictions) and wild mushrooms (because the ones which grow in Peru are - hmm, not exactly affecting our taste buds). Cheers to grouse - I’ll have it with porcini as often as I can even if it means re-mortgaging my house!

Less than one in ten Brit knows what’s in season in a given season. Adults struggle to determine which produce is indigenous to which region, let alone the children – the images of flowing fields of spaghetti spring to minds again. Their ignorance about where and how fruit and vegetables grow would be hilarious if it wasn't terrifying.

Back to strawberries (which many kids think grow on trees) – the new teched-out March ones will not be the outdoorsy types and that’s the biggest problem. I’ve heard people say the best strawberries are British, but the French will say theirs are better and the Germans will disagree. And they will all be right, because the best strawberries are the ones least travelled – and the sunkissed ones. They may apply NASA technology to the poor berries in the greenhouses but it will never match what comes from the slug-ridden, much rained-on, straw-tucked-in patch down my garden.

 

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