The best reason to eat our strawberries is taste — once you try the real thing, it’s hard to go back to grocery store berries. But you might also consider this: industrial berries tend to be soaked with chemicals. In 2015 the Environmental Working Group reported that industrial growers in California use up to 300 pounds of pesticide per acre of plants. By comparison, sweet corn usually gets 5 pounds per acre.
Testing conducted by the US Department of Agriculture in 2015 and 2016 revealed an average of eight different kinds of pesticide per strawberry sample, compared with an average of two for most produce. “Ninety-nine percent of the samples tested had detectable levels of at least one pesticide,” according to the website Mercola, “and 1 in 5 samples had residues of 10 or more chemicals. The most contaminated sample had 22.”
The USDA study turned up 81 different pesticides in the samples from growers in the U.S., Mexico, and the Netherlands, including carbendazim, a hormone-disrupting fungicide linked to male reproductive damage, and bifenthrin, a pyrethroid insecticide classified as a possible human carcinogen. Mercola reports that “40 of the 1,174 samples contained pesticides that are actually illegal for use on strawberries.”
And even the organic label may not be a safeguard against chemical infusion. That’s because the standards for organic certification apply only to the practices of the certified grower, not to the practices of nurseries where he or she may buy their starter plants — and most nurseries sterilize their soil with fumigants before planting.
So the best way to avoid consuming a chemical cocktail with every berry is to know the story of every berry you put in your mouth.
Come on out to the farm, and we’ll tell you the story of our berries. They’re clean — free of pesticides unless some infestation forces us to intervene, on which case we’ll let you know.