A Dirty Little Secret: Your “Organic” Strawberries Aren’t Really Organic
Unbelievable! It turns out that certified organic strawberries aren’t really organic. Even though this type of strawberries is significantly more popular than ordinary strawberries, it seems that they are polluted with dangerous chemicals like methyl bromide from the moment they start developing.
In case you didn’t know, methyl bromide is a chemical used to disinfect the soil where strawberries should be planted. In other words, this chemical is not used directly on the strawberries. This soil disinfector has the ability to eliminate almost any substance in its way. There are numerous hybrid seeds that are able to prosper only when the soil is sterile.
According to one of the most famous British botanists, Albert Howard, the soil is packed with living microorganisms. So, it is crucial to understand that this is not some kind of dead mass, but a lively area.
The history of agriculture is longer than 10 millennia and most of this time; farmers have either witnessed success or failure depending on their capability to care for the life found in the soil. For example, the worms and microorganisms that dwell in ordinary fertile soil process nutrients and the crops can use these nutrients.
In addition, they are able to turn vegetable and animal waste into useful humus. This means that they are recovering the habitat and keep the first layer of soil safe and this is very important when it comes to growing new plants.
On the other hand, today’s agriculture looks at the soil as some kind of medium. The soil is here to “put” pre-processed nutrients made in factories directly to the crops. This practice makes the live organisms in soil either harmless or dangerous. In case the producers use the same field to plant the same type of crop for years, the pests accumulate in the ground and we can expect problems.
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Strawberries Aren’t Really Organic
What Does this Mean?
Before the process of bearing begins, almost every strawberry, no matter if they are traditionally grown strawberries or organic, are exposed to toxic chemical disinfectors and few different dangerous pesticides.
In case you didn’t know, pests love strawberries. In order to maintain the same level of production and increase profit, strawberry farms must use a huge amount of dangerous toxic chemicals.
The United Sates is the country that produces the highest amount of strawberries each year. In addition, ¾ of the production is concentrated in California (both processed and fresh). The strawberries found in American markets usually come from California. This is where most of the strawberry nursery plants are concentrated too. However, there is no organic strawberry nursery plant till now.
A completely organic type of rising strawberries requires rotating of this fruit with other crops that look like they have nothing in common like broccoli or some other so-called cover crop. Broccoli is a veggie that naturally eliminates fungus and keeps strawberries safe.
With the use of rotating crops, producers can protect the progress and procreation of pathogens. The summer period is the period when the majority of fungi are active. On the other hand, during the winter period they are able to hibernate in the soil and activate during the next year. In other words, if you grow strawberries all the time and you don’t take measures, these pathogens will grow and expand every year.
Six years ago, US signed the Montreal Protocol which made methyl bromide illegal for commercial use. However, this ban doesn’t apply to the process of treating strawberry fields and few other agriculture processes. It is worth mentioning that this chemical is linked to the development of prostate cancer in farmers.
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That’s why many strawberry producers replaced methyl bromide with methyl iodide, but this change is not healthy either.
The Food and Drug Administration allowed the use of methyl iodide for specific tasks in California 5 years ago. However, many experts (some of them are Nobel Prize winners) are highlighting the fact that methyl iodide has negative impact on human health and pollutes the environment.
This is the reason why these scientists have gathered and come up with a letter that was sent to EPA. In this letter they urge EPA and other agencies to ban the use of this pesticide. They have pointed out that methyl iodide is a harmful and reactive substance. In other words, it damages the living tissue and leads to cell, DNA and chromosome damage.
According to Ted Schettler (medical doctor), the main point is to help the public understand the negative effects of methyl iodide because it was already linked to cancer. Several animal studies have shown that this compound has the ability to destroy fetuses when animals inhale methyl iodide. This is a very dangerous chemical.
Jim Cochran is a farmer that is involved in growing completely organic strawberries in Davenport for more than 3 decades. As a matter of fact, he was the pioneer of organic strawberries in the state of California.
However, there is a catch. Jim purchases his initial plants from a Californian nursery where workers use toxic disinfectors in the pre-growth stage. Jim says that the rules are not clear about this matter. This means that organic producers can buy completely non-organic initial material when they can’t find organic material and their products will still be considered organic.
New York Times has recently reported that there is no organic strawberry nursery plant in California.
Cochran claims that the organic farms that grow different crops are complex and require more effort and time. The aforementioned rotating techniques are costly and generally speaking producers can expect lower yields. He says that it is very difficult to compete with producers that rely on chemicals because they can still sell their products as organic. However, he is determined to continue producing completely organic strawberries and he hopes that people will learn more about the difference which will eventually increase his profits.
Practical Organic Strawberries Solutions
It is possible to find authentic, organic strawberries from a small producer in your place. So, when you are at the local farmer’s market and the season of organic strawberries has started, feel free to check whether the strawberries are made from organic seeds or the vendor has used starter plant material from the well-known chemical-treated nursery plants.
Grow Your Own Strawberries
It is obvious why people, who have knowledge in this field, don’t advise using seeds obtained from strawberries purchased in grocery stores. Do some research and find organic strawberry seeds. You can even find them online. You can use the internet to learn more about the process of growing strawberries too.
According to many people, everbearing is one of the most popular berry varieties. This variety has the ability to produce strawberries all the time during the growing period. The first berries are available in spring and the fruits can be found in summer and even early autumn.
Once the seedlings are prepared for transplantation and you don’t have enough room, feel free to use a simple garden tower for this purpose. Remember that strawberries require great sun exposure and a soil that is able to drain the water well, but keep certain level of moisture.
Even though the following video doesn’t talk about organic strawberry initial plants, you will notice some tips about spraying certain fungicides for protection.
Via Real Farmacy