• Choose food grown for flavour

    Have you ever returned from holiday abroad, or a local market, raving about the smells and flavours of the fruit and veg? And then wondered how the shiny, uniform contenders in the supermarket can taste so disappointing when they look so perfect?

Flavour is a subjective business, but most of us know it when we find it – and miss it when we don’t. And buying with our eyes alone is an unreliable guide. 

After thirty years of growing hundreds of different sorts of veg, going to countless seed trials, obsessively testing and tasting varieties grown in different soils, Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford founder and self-professed veg nerd, believes in the pursuit of three simple rules for flavoursome veg:

 

  • Choose the right variety – all potatoes were not created equal!
  • Grow it in the right conditions – slowly, naturally, letting the flavour develop
  • Eat it fresh from the farm

And of course, he always adds, every veg is at its absolute best in its peak season.

Three rules for flavoursome veg

1.

The right variety

Commercial veg varieties are selected mostly for qualities like high yield, cosmetic features, uniformity (hugely useful in packing and presenting fruit and veg on the supermarket shelf) and early maturity. The more you intensively select for yield or early maturity, the more you sacrifice complex, harder to quantify traits like flavour and nutritional value.

Over thirty years, we’ve seen many varieties we’ve selected for flavour dropped from seed breeders’ lists because they’re deemed less commercial. Consolidation in the seed trade just adds to this; after a global buying spree, including the buyout of fellow giant Bayer, the multinational agribusiness Monsanto now owns a staggering 29% of the global seed trade. This follows the merger of Dow Chemical with DuPont in 2015, leaving a staggering 51% of the world’s seed market under the control of just two companies.

We persist with trialling new varieties, testing them with the chefs in our farm restaurant, and listening to the customers who buy direct from us every week: for many of them it is a revelation that potatoes can actually have flavour rather than being a bland medium for salt and butter! Yields may be a little lower, but better small and tasty than a mountain of watery cucumber and bland carrots.

When you choose a Riverford veg box, you choose food grown for flavour. Spuds like your grandad used to grow, the crunchiest cauliflower and the carrotiest carrots, all delivered to your doorstep with minimal fuss and unbeatable quality. And better still, it’s all 100% organic.

References

https://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/2018/march/08/should-we-be-concerned-over-a-monsanto-bayer-merger/
https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/executive_briefings/ag_ma_ebot_final.pdf