I can't eat the whole 2008 Oregon strawberry crop, but I've been trying. So help me out – buy local, buy often.
I was pleased to see Loaded Orygun's recent post on this important subject: "Not just strawberries – OREGON strawberries. Please?"
It mentioned my "As Oregon strawberries go, so the state" musing from a few years ago. What I said then still is true now.
Oregon strawberries are special. Research has proven that they're sweeter, redder, and simply better. But they're on the decline. Just like our state. Like a canary in a coal mine, the Oregon strawberry reflects the health of our previously vaunted livability.
I've been doing my best to keep Oregon strawberry growers in business. Almost every day I buy a carton or two from Roth's Sunnyslope Market in south Salem, which admirably sells quite a bit of local produce.
It isn't hard to decide between the delicious Oregon variety and the tasteless (by comparison) California berries. The latter travel better, so most of the country has never tasted a real strawberry.
When we were in Bend last week I made the mistake of buying a big container of California strawberries at Costco. They tasted fine.
Until I got back to Salem, walked into Roth's, and saw that local strawberries from Blue Heron Farms were on display. Now I can barely bring myself to eat the California berries.
Loaded Orygun's Torrid Joe has some good news. After describing how tests show Oregon strawberries to be objectively better than competitors from other states, he writes:
And so armed with those selling points, the push is on to identify Oregon strawberries by name in order to drive demand and a taste for a specific variety--like Alaskan salmon or Maine lobster, Vermont syrup or Wisconsin cheese.
Excellent idea. The decline in Oregon's strawberry acreage has to stop, or local berry addicts like me are going to face serious withdrawal problems one of these Junes.