Organic methods may help in producing more
flavorful and nutritious food, but they are not the
only secret to success. It is certainly possible to
grow organic food that has only mediocre flavor.
We spend a lot of time thinking about how our
berries and vegetables are going to taste.
Take our strawberries, for example. Many
people confuse flavor and sweetness. ‘Flavor'
is our interpretation of the volatile oils in the
fruit. Sweetness is a pretty simple reaction
to sugars in the fruit. Most strawberries on
the market have a simple sweetness, but fall
short on the much more complex volatile oils.
We are looking to have both sweetness and flavor.
How do we do that?
1. We pick the fruit as ripe as possible, and get it to our customers as soon as we can.
This is quite risky, because the riper a strawberry the softer it is, thus it is more
susceptible to damage and spoiling.
2. We don't pump our plants with too much fertilizer, which would give us tons more
fruit, but much less flavor in each berry. Organic methods help in this regard because
our organic fertilizers release nutrients to the plant slowly.
3. We choose varieties that taste good. Unfortunately, those varieties invariably
produce lower yields (and hence higher per-unit cost).
4. We build our soil. Rich soil offers the plant a wide range of nutrients resulting in
a more complex flavor. Most strawberries are grown in sandy soils, which don't offer
the plant much in terms of nutrients. They tend to have only slight, simple strawberry
5. We don't water too much. The extra water dilutes the flavor.
6. We don't give up. Of course, as weather conditions change, we get some variability
in flavor. But we do everything we can to get the best flavor possible at the time of
We grow primarily two varieties of strawberry, the Chandler and the Seascape. We also try new varieties (actually old varieties) every year, always looking for the best flavor. Our favorite, the Chandler, is an old standby, but yields only about 2/3 as much as other varieties commonly available on the organic market. Nonetheless, we remain committed to this variety even though it is far less profitable to grow.
Click here to see an illustrated history of strawberry breeding.
Swanton Berry Farm, P.O. Box 308, Davenport, CA 95017 | (831)469-8804 | Web Design: Dov Bock © 2005