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A Dirty Little Secret: Your “Organic” Strawberries Aren’t Really Organic

You think you are being kinder to your body by purchasing ‘organic’ strawberrys, which in actual fact organic strawberries are fumigated with toxic chemicals, including methyl bromide,in the early stages of their life.

Methyl bromide, is used to sterilize the soil before strawberries are planted. It’s a potent soil fumigant that kills everything it comes into contact with, and it is a sad fact that lots of  hybridized seed varieties created can only grow in sterile soil.

“The soil is, as a matter of fact, full of live organisms. It is essential to conceive of it as something pulsating with life, not as a dead or inert mass.”
– Albert Howard, The Soil and Health, 1947

For the whole of agriculture’s history, farmers have relied on being able to grow crops by carefully monitoring and getting the best results from the soil available to them. 

Sadly in modern agriculture the soil is seen as a medium and not a habitat. It only exists to transfer synthetic, pre-metabolized nutrients from the factories to the fields. Because of this, any life forms found in the soil are seen as threat to the new, sterile environment where conditions are treated as if they were in a lab.

Nearly all strawberry plants before they bear any fruit are treated with toxic chemical fumigants and other unsavory pesticides.
Strawberries are renowned for being victims of pests, and so farmers do what they can to make sure their crops don’t get eaten by insects before they can be eaten by me and you.

The U.S. produces the largest amount of strawberries in the whole world, and California is responsible for around 75 percent of the fresh and processed strawberries exported. It is also where most of the worlds strawberry nursing plants come from, but there is not one single organic nursery farm.

100% organic strawberries should be grown by a process of crop rotation with broccoli or a suitable cover crop. Broccoli is a natural fungicide and protects strawberries.

Rotating crops stops pathogens from infecting the soil. “Most fungi attack in summer, survive the winter as spores in the soil or plant litter, then attack again in the next growing season. So planting the same crops in the same fields year after year allow pathogens to build their populations.”

In 2010 in response to the U.S. agreement to the Montreal Protocol, methyl bromide commercial use was supposed to have been banned, however strawberry field fumigation was excepted from the ban. Methyl bromide has also been linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer in farm workers.

Annually, more than 9.5 million pounds of pesticides, including over 3 million pounds of methyl bromide, is used on strawberries to keep them pest-free.

The alternative, methyl iodide, is no better. In an effort to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from approving the use of methyl iodide: “More than 50 scientists, including five Nobel laureates, stated in a joint letter, “As chemists and physicians familiar with the effects of this chemical … we urge you to do whatever is possible to prevent this chemical from ever becoming a registered pesticide.

A monocrop of conventionally growing strawberries in Salinas, CA. Photo snapped by Susie Sutphin

“Everyone agrees, without exception, that methyl iodide is a very toxic compound. It’s very reactive. That means it interacts with living tissue in very toxic ways, causing cell damage and damage to cell structures, DNA, or chromosomes,” explains Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, science director at Science and Environmental Health Network. “The upshot is it can cause a lot of health effects, including cancer and damage to tissues that are developing. In animal studies, it killed the fetuses of developing animals exposed by inhalation; fetuses were killed at relatively low doses. Nobody doubts it’s a nasty chemical.”

Jim Cochran, an organic strawberry farmer who has been growing organic strawberries at his farm in Swanton Berry, Davenport explains: “There’s a gray area in the rules.” Both Federal and state organic regulations give the nod allowing organic farmers to purchase non-organic starter material when they have no other options and still call their strawberries organic.

If you are worried about the authenticity of your ‘organic’ strawberries, next time you are buying them, ask the seller if he grew his strawberries from organic heirloom seeds, or if he purchased the initial plant material from a conventional nursery. The best way to be sure your strawberries are pesticide free of course, is to get your own organic seeds and grown them yourself.

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A Dirty Little Secret: Your “Organic” Strawberries Aren’t Really Organic A Dirty Little Secret: Your “Organic” Strawberries Aren’t Really Organic Reviewed by C C on 18:07:00 Rating: 5