Strawberries are a very popular fruit among us consumers. They are eaten plain, in desserts, and even in salads. In 2015 1,543 thousand tons were produced in the United States due to high consumer demand. 90% of the strawberries on the American market are grown in the state of California. However, they carry a horrifying secret. Let's look at the life cycle of California strawberries.

Not as fresh as you think

The Dirty Truth About StrawberriesToday’s strawberries are grown from part of the stem from strawberries that were growing five years ago. They were put into a petri dish back then, and grown into a new plant. The new plant grows dozens of daughter plants. The process is repeated several times to make tons of daughter plants.

This processes at first occurs in a very climate controlled greenhouse. Then it is repeated in the very hot fields of the California Central Valley. Finally, they get primed for maximum production in the cold of the California- Oregon border. The cold affects them in a way that makes them grow to their maximum potential.

Once the daughters are primed and ready for independent life they are sent to strawberry farmers. It is these genetically produced daughter plants that make the massive California strawberry crop.

Lose No Profit

The California strawberry farmers have too much money invested in their strawberries. This kind of farming is very tricky due to the berries being delicate and difficult to grow. Additionally, the berries like to grow in residential areas on the coast where it is warmer. This makes it hard to make a profitable strawberry business.

Farmers don’t want to lose any of their money so they will leave no factor to nature. To prevent insects, weeds, and fungus, they will go through measures that end up hurting the consumer. They kill the ground with dangerous pesticides to kill most life under their fields. This is to prevent future plagues. They do this by injecting the chemicals into the soil, and sealing the chemicals into the ground with sheets of plastic. This is done yearly, about one month before planting time. These pesticides going by the name of fumigants cause many problems.

Fumigants do not harm consumers, because there is no residue on the fruit. However, they do affect their lives negatively. These negative effects include cancer, developmental problems, and a whole in the ozone layer.

The first very dangerous pesticide still used on strawberries today is methyl bromide. This chemical is ripping a hole in the ozone layer. California strawberry growers have fought against this ban. They fear being financially ruined. The rest of the world has already banned it and Californian strawberry farmers use 90% of it in the world. Farmers keep switching between one dangerous chemical to another to try to phase this out without losing profit.

1,3-Dichloropropene is sold under the name of Telone. It is a byproduct of plastic manufacturing and works as a pesticide. It is cancerous and killing Californians. It was taken off the market for five years in 1990, but Dow put 5 million dollars of research into it and placed it back on the market in 1995. It is not any less dangerous than it was back then but, the government changed the rules on it. It is now a crucial pesticide used on all California strawberry fields.

With these pesticides being used on the strawberries consumers are getting scared of all of the health risks. The market will become worse and the whole industry is at severe risk. We have no idea when it will start to fall, because it is still on a rising trend. One day it will start to fall though. However, there is a better way that will save the industry and farmers.

A glimmer of hope

The Dirty Truth About Strawberries Organic and conventional strawberry growers both start with fumigated plants. However, that is where the similarities stop. Instead of killing the land, they use much gentler ways to prepare the soil.

 One way they do this is building a good amount of nutrients in the ground before the berries are planted. They apply organic fertilizer in the mid to late summer before the growing season starts. This way it has time to break down. High-N materials such as fish meals, seed meals, or alfalfa meal are applied the ground. Compost also helps to condition, and balance the nutrients in the soil but does not do well on it’s own. They normally apply a mixture of the two.

Another thing they do is rotate the crops yearly to work on them. They either try to kill bugs or weeds depending on which problem is worse. The other option they have is to make the land more fertile, so they can depend less on off-farm sources of fertility. This will keep the farm sustainable with good quality land for years to come.

Organic strawberry fields are switched yearly by most farmers. They will plant another crop for a year or two and then go back to growing strawberries on them. Some of these other crops include red clover, carrots, and lettuce. These crops may not be as profitable as strawberries but they are still purchased often and help provide the farmers with much needed profits the years they are unable to place strawberries in that field.

Organic strawberries are a lot healthier than conventional strawberries. They work hard to protect both the environment and their customers. If you do not eat organic strawberries I challenge you to live healthy try them today. Spread the word, and share this with your friends.

Sources:
http://www.foodmanufacturing.com/data-focus/2016/08/strawberry-production-us-2015-state
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/05/17/152522900/the-secret-life-of-californias-world-class-strawberries
https://www.revealnews.org/article/californias-strawberry-industry-is-hooked-on-dangerous-pesticides/
http://www.mofga.org/default.aspx?tabid=856

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