Sweeter and more satisfying than any candy I have ever had, the wild strawberry is truly one of nature’s tasty gifts.
I know I’ve already covered the domestic strawberry as a flavor, touting the difference in taste between conventional and organic, but the wild strawberry is a taste sensation all its own. The first thing that came to mind as I savored its sweet and juicy deliciousness, was how very horribly we’ve lost the plot when it comes to domesticating and hybridizing our food. We hybridize and genetically modify for things like longer shelf life, easier transportation, higher yield but it seems we’ve forgotten that food should also taste good. These wild strawberries evoke a nostalgia that I didn’t know I had.
The other thing that wild strawberries remind me of is the seasonality of our food and the gift of cycles. I find a deeper appreciation and mindful connection to them, knowing they are only here for a brief amount of time and the only thing to do is to enjoy them to their fullest. We have grown accustomed to having whatever we want whenever we want it and perhaps in doing so have lost the art of anticipation.
Wild strawberries tend to be smaller than domestic strawberries, although this can vary with the terroir and variety. They have an intensely sweet and rich strawberry flavor that could really never be recreated in a lab. From a culinary perspective, a little bit goes a long way. These strawberries are so flavorful they make a nice addition to both sweet and savory dishes. I’ve added a few of them to my breakfast plate and enjoyed them again later with some cheese and sourdough rye flatbreads.
From a health perspective, the intensity of flavor signifies also the density of nutrients. Wild strawberries pack a significant nutrient punch thus serving as a reminder that one of the other great losses as we have hybridized our food, is nutrient value. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find as I was searching peer-reviewed journals for scientific data on strawberries, that there was a significant amount dedicated specifically to wild cultivars.
A small handful of wild strawberries provides the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and they are also a significant source of Vitamins A and E. They are packed with phytochemicals that provide a plethora of health benefits. For example, research suggests that strawberries contain chemical compounds that contribute to cardiovascular health, wild strawberries especially demonstrated a particular anti-thrombotic effect allowing blood to flow more freely through the heart and body.
Studies also show that particular cultivars of the woodland strawberry contain phytonutrients that decrease the risk of esophageal cancer and reduce cell proliferation in certain types of breast cancers. Wild strawberries are a significant source of quercetin, which has the demonstrated impact of reducing the risk of colon and other gastrointestinal cancers. There has also been some interesting research showing that the phytonutrients in strawberries, in particular, wild cultivars inhibit the production of enzymes associated with systemic inflammation. They also contain nutrients that inhibit the production of tumors.
Wild strawberries have been part of the human diet since the Stone Age according to archeological finds. They can be found in fields and wooded environments across the European and North American continents.