Spring is (finally!) in full bloom here on the East Coast, and before we know it, we’ll be flipping the calendar to that cherished season that’s held its magical spell over us since childhood: strawberry season. Before heading to the grocery store to stock up, though, we’re taking note that for the third year in a row, strawberries top EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list.
EWG, or the Environmental Working Group, has published its annual Dirty Dozen list since 2004 as a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. 2018 once more finds this beloved summer fruit topping the list, with a whopping “22 pesticide residues” in one strawberry sample. According to EWG, one-third of all conventional strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides.
EWG warns that when consumed in high concentration, pesticides can be harmful to our health and should be avoided, especially from conception through childhood. In addition to harming our own health, pesticides have been blamed for the plight of the honeybee, its population on a dangerous decline. Without bees, pollination wanes—and that means plants, flowers and agriculture won’t grow.
So, what’s a fruit lover to do when strawberries top EWG’s Dirty Dozen list? Buy organic strawberries whenever possible to avoid pesticide exposure and consumption. In addition, shopping local (farmers markets, roadside fruit stands) is a great option, as you can ask questions of the farmers who actually grow your produce. They’ll be able to tell you if they’ve treated their crops, and with what. Remember that getting the USDA Certified Organic designation is expensive, and although small farms may not be able to afford the rigorous testing that seal requires, they may very well be growing their crops without harmful pesticides. With a little research and mindful consumption, strawberry season can still retain the sweet, delectable magic you remember.
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