We taste everything that goes in your veg boxes; in fact at one time we tested the palates of all our staff and formed a panel from those with the most sensitivity. It was an admirably democratic exercise, but proved useless as it failed to accommodate the fact that taste is subjective, highly related to the individual and therefore defies objective measurement.
Forty years of business mantra maintains that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. If you can’t manage it, the easiest thing to do is pretend that it doesn’t exist; an approach that has been misapplied to healthcare and education as well as the quality of vegetables. What measurables there are have improved over the years: shelf life, uniformity, yield, even the elements of flavour which can be quantified like sweetness and crunchiness/turgidity. However, these improvements have been won at the cost of harder to measure, more subtle flavours, and almost certainly nutritional quality. Flavour comes from the crop variety, soil type, growing conditions (most notably the availability of nitrogen and water) and freshness. The best flavour normally comes from vegetables and fruit that have grown slowly, often with a degree of hardship that falls just short of stress (which can result in bitter/off flavours). As such, most commercial farmers cannot risk aiming for flavour when cosmetic appearance is what their buyers will judge quality on.
Introducing…The Riverford Flavour Tour
To bring the focus of food back to flavour we are launching a hands-on, mouthwatering experience of organic vegetables farmed for flavour. Drop by for veg growing, cooking classes, veg games, tastings, demos, and much more! We’ll also be running our new Master Veg cookery classes and Pop-Up Feasts nationwide – see website for details.
WOMAD: 28th-30th July
Riverford on Home Farm: 4th-6th & 8th-9th Aug
Riverford on Sacrewell Farm: 18th-20th Aug
Abergavenny Food Festival: 16th-17th Sept