Knees in the dirt and head high in strawberry leaves, Molly and I spent one June morning two years back picking and eating, picking and eating garden strawberries until our bellies and baskets were full.
It’s one of those blissful memories I’d pay to relive—from the smell of the straw mulch to the pink stains on my legs to the fragrant, sun-warmed berries in my mouth.
The fact of the matter is my girls will eat strawberries anytime, anywhere from any source. Just like all the kids we know, and I suppose, kids everywhere.
And so, the berries we most often eat from May on are not homegrown. They are not ideal, these supermarket strawberries. Big and firm with white and strangely hollow insides.
We give them credit for simply hinting at the flavors of a true, jewel-like strawberry plucked off the stem.
Pesticides & Strawberries
What really troubles me is what I cannot see or taste or detect in any way: pesticides. Now, you’d think that buying organic strawberries would avoid the problem altogether. Truth is, large-scale commercial growers of strawberries rely on plant stock treated with fumigants and synthetic pesticides and are still approved by the USDA’s National Organic Program.
Whenever I buy a plastic container of California organic strawberries, I wonder what I’m really feeding my daughters.
Are they real or fake organic? Are they more toxic or nutritious? Are they good for the soil, for the bees, for our bodies, for the planters and the pickers?
I wish that I felt as certain about the goodness of those strawberries as I did on that June day gorging with my first-born in a friend’s field.
I could not see her over the plants on the next row, the sun was scorching hot enough to burn her tender skin and there were rattlesnakes nearby. Still, I knew for certain that she, stuffing herself silly with summer’s first berry, was completely and perfectly safe.