Strawberry red

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If you’re growing strawberries it’s easy to find the ripe ones by their color. Bright red through and through is when the fruit’s at its peak and the sugars are just right.

That eons-old technique no longer applies when shopping for the tasty fruit at the market. Beautifully colored berries aren’t a guarantee of ripeness or sweetness in a modern American market (and I suspect elsewhere in the world as well).  This is because the vast majority of our fruit is picked green then ripened by ethylene gas (even organic strawberries). This may sound awful but it’s not a new invention. The technique has been around for centuries.

If you want to experiment, place an unripened strawberry in a plastic bag and with it add a banana. Bananas release natural ethylene gas which then will redden the strawberry.

Force ripening fruit doesn’t do a whole lot to improve its taste and sugar content. It mostly improves the color. The best tasting fruits are field ripened but nearly impossible to then get them to market in time to eat.

I bring this to your attention because it occurs to me there’s a similarity in the way we perceive stereo equipment. We judge strawberries by their color and we judge hifi equipment by the look and weight of the chassis. Neither really tells us much about what’s inside.

And the shame of it is that this method once worked. Red used to indicate ripeness and a pristine chassis once reflected the care of design inside.

Is all hope lost? Hardly. What’s changed is a bit more added weight on the consumer’s side. It’s now more important than ever to know who you’re buying from and what their motivations for producing goods are. Search out the ethical manufacturers who openly discuss their goals and give you more than just a peek inside. You want the whole story.

Farm fresh is worth seeking out if you can, just like digging in deep with your hifi manufacturer.

I’d sooner trust the word of the farmer than the reseller.