Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Strawberries

Strawberries have been really late this year, because May was so cold and wet. This month, in contrast, there has been such a heatwave that, now they are starting to ripen, we will be inundated with them. We have three local suppliers.

The smallest producer rang last night to say there would be only two and a half pounds today, so his neighbours will buy them. However, they are the most popular as they are especially delicious and extremely local and we will take all he doesn't need.
One farm uses polytunnels so they are a little less affected by the weather. So we ordered plenty from them last night and picked them up this morning.
Now the other farm has rung to say they are picking now and there will be at least 15 lbs ready by lunch time. Since we have said we will buy their entire crop, we didn't say that we have already ordered elsewhere, so let's hope Al has plenty of customers this afternoon.
The outdoor ones are the very best and they are picked and sold within a few hours. Unlike Sainsbury's, where, as Jamie Oliver boasted in the advertisements last year, the strawberries are picked and on the shelves in 48 hours. Our standards are rather more rigorous, we don't think strawberries, if picked ripe, are fit to be sold 48 hours later.

Says I self-righteously!

14 comments:

PI said...

A propos one of your earlier posts - is there the same love/hate relationship between Suffolk and Norfolk as between Lancashire (Yay) an Yorkshire (boo0

Z said...

I don't know actually. I've always lived so close to the norfolk/suffolk border that I'm not aware of a distinction. There probably is, I should think Nor-folk are yokels and South Suf-folk are a bit too close to Essex.

There is among older people a great consciousness of 'localness' - I remember a conversation with one friend, soon to be 87 "no, his wife isn't a local woman, she comes from Mettingham" - a village less than 5 miles away, and she's been married 50 years.

Sal said...

>we don't think strawberries, if picked ripe, are fit to be sold 48 hours later.
Says I self-righteously!


... says you because you CAN, you mean... ;)

Z said...

You are entirely right of course. But if you have no option but to sell two-day picked strawberries, why boast about it in an expensive advertisement on national television? And if you are a celebrity who prides himself on using quality produce, are you not letting down your own standards by being a mouthpiece for that advert?

But yes, you have me skewered on my own sharp tongue.

Sal said...

looking at your blog a bit further, i think you'll appreciate this old old post of mine, re food and how england denies most of its population most of what it can produce:

"Later"

Sal said...

whoops -- crossed in the net.

i see your point but... any time you criticise something you must look at the available alternatives. compared to the other supermarkets, sainsbury's WAS making an effort with some foods. and genuinely delivered what they promised.

ok, that wasn't as good as fresh picked.

but it was/is a damn sight better than the supermarket alternatives. and, sadly, that's all that most english people can have, at present.

Sal said...

oh and "skewered on sharp tongue" -- tosh. that wasn't my intent at all -- i wasn't criticising, merely wanted to add a wider perspective (and to remind you just how bloody lucky you are!).

your observation re the food quality was spot on.
i just felt you were being unfair to jamie in light of the practicalities of the bulk market -- the "normal" market-- and his overall purpose of trying to get people looking at taste rather than colour.
ie. the the ENORMOUS logistical difficulties of picking and transporting VAST quantities of food at high speed. it really is a phenomenal task. a phenomenal achievement over the years as the various distribution networks have coalesced. but just because we can now take it for granted doesn't mean it's not amazing.
;) familiarity breeds contempt.

so if jamie was trying to get people excited again about the TASTE of food, then getting fruit only 2 days after being picked, vs. 1-3 months later, gamma-irradiated and water-bloated, well that's the best available tool he has, and a good mechanism to start to get people aware that food-taste is important because our tongues evolved to let us know what was and wasn't nutritious.

so, i wasn't trying to skewer you on any status-point. merely wanting to remind you that you are insanely lucky. and that we don't all have that luxury. and if someone (jamie) is trying to shift a whole cultural habit, then he has little option but to choose from the tools that are available.


am i raving?
i think i'm raving.
i'll shut up now.

Z said...

But supermarkets treat their growers really badly, they advertise 2-for-1 offers and the grower has to supply the extra for no more money, they reject any good food that doesn't fit their idea of the correct size, and they are more expensive than the small butchers and greengrocers they have crowded out of the market. A few years ago, there were 4 greengrocers in this small town, that doesn't even have a large supermarket, and now there is only one. And the taste of large, hard strawberries that have been grown for their keeping qualities rather than their taste is really nothing for Jamie Oliver (who has done some extremely good and unself-serving work) to recommend.

I listened to a Radio 4 programme a while ago, about farmers in Africa who grow for the British market. They all hope for a contract with Marks & Spencer or Waitrose because they are the only supermarkets who treat them with any respect and pay fairly, in their opinion.

Supermarkets market themselves very aggressively and have destroyed many small suppliers and shopkeepers who simply cannot compete with them. If you don't have the luxury of going to a shop that gets its produce freshly picked by a small producer, it is because Sainsbury's, Tesco's etc have put it out of business.

Z said...

But thank you for writing Sal. and I'm afraid I've raved rather more than you have. Excuse me ;-)

How do we know said...

I agree with the point of supermarketts sellign stale stuff at a higher price and putting the small grocers out of business.. that happens everywhere,I guess..

But all in all, how were they? (the strawberries)

Z said...

Oh, yummy. Gorgeous. badgerdaddy had some, have you checked out his site?

Z said...

Oh, and lovely peacemaking :-)

Geisha said...

If there was a norfolk/suffolk divide where would I stand? My village is classed as in Diss but is mid suffolk council.

First time I've read you blog - will add it to my list to follow!

Z said...

Foot in both camps like me, I suppose.

Thanks, and welcome!