I'm coining the term "explanifesto" to describe posts that are half explanation, half manifesto/rant. This is one of those.
Strawberries, which used to be my favorite fruit, have become sucky. I blame the Midwest U.S.
See, it's difficult to ship strawberries to the Midwest from California and other warmer strawberry-growing regions. So it was in the interest of the strawberry industry to develop big, beautiful, hardy strawberries that travel without blemishing or becoming squishy.
Unfortunately, these beautiful strawberries are hard, juiceless, and nearly flavorless. Cut them open, and they're white inside.
Meet the Camarosa strawberry. The University of California owns the patent, and to my great chagrin, my very own university invented this fruit of the damned. As of 2005, the strawberry was the third-highest earner among UC patents, ranking just below two medical advances.
So there's big money in crappy strawberries. Thank you, Iowa. (When I was living there, the natives swore they saw nothing wrong with the big, hard strawberries. Friends who studied abroad, however, came back asking to join my nascent anti-crappy-strawberry movement.)
It used to be you could find good strawberries locally, but even farmers' markets now sell Camarosas and similar berries to the exclusion of all others. So this year I've planted a dozen strawberry plants in two smaller, sweeter varieties, and I encourage you to do the same once the ground warms up where you are. Encourage local farmers to plant decent berries—there are dozens, if not hundreds, of tasty varieties—and flip the UC Regents the bird.
The California Strawberry Commission
The University of California Strawberry Breeding Program