Ironically, the strawberry evolved into a self-pollinating hermaphrodite in order to become more popular. Rather than spend the bulk of its energy on producing pollen and seducing bees to become its seed delivery drones, the strawberry had a far more ambitious agenda. It decided to focus on producing a taste and aroma that would inspire clever bipeds to propagate its progeny worldwide.
Though the stawberry’s sweet scheme worked beautifully, its popularity came at a bitter price. Where once there were dozens of varieties found in gardens and greenhouses across early America, today nearly the entire U.S. strawberry crop consists of a single variety: the “Pineapple Strawberry”, or Fragaria ananassa.
The strawberry naively miscalculated. It overestimated the depth of human appreciation for beauty and diversity. For mankind too was evolving, and not toward beauty and diversity but rather towards a monocultural and “industrial” food system that values only expediency.
Still, there remain a few undiscovered strawberry varieties alive in the wild woodlands. In 2012, one was discovered fruiting in the high peaks of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Shown to be local to the area, it was dubbed Fragaria cascadensis.
And there is something yet more profound about our love of strawberries than even the preservation of our common diversity.
“The very fact that man loves the sight, the visual sight of a strawberry is an internal spiritual reaction enforced by the whole revolution of the stars. It is what makes him choose to pop that strawberry into his mouth and begin a whole circulation of reformation of the produce. And in that he is utterly requisite. For in growing those beautiful strawberries more and more beautiful for his own taste, so does his imagination, led by nature in the strawberry itself to want more perfection, more beauty, more lusciousness, more color…which are but the invitations of the outer physical expression demanding his own inner destiny to follow its course and fulfill the law of creation.” -Alan Chadwick