Dirty Dozen: Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries.

Dirty Dozen: Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries.

[Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries – wondering what the answer is? I’ll give it to you: conventional. Now if you want to know why then please read below.]

A few months ago my husband and I were having brunch with another couple and their three-year-old son. We started talking about organic and non-organic food. I told them that studies say organic food does not have any significant nutritional benefits and it’s just as good as conventional – only cheaper.

This was hard for my parent friends to get a grasp on. “But what about strawberries?” my friend asked. She said that because of the fuzzy strawberry skin she prefers to buy organic just in case. She also mentioned the Environmental Working Group and their “Dirty Dozen” list. Conversation closed, she was not interested in discussing that subject further. When just in case gets in the way, then fear is around, which means it’s really, really hard to fight with facts.

A month or two later, the Environmental Working Group released the newer Dirty Dozen list. Guess what? Strawberries “topped” the list as the “dirtiest” produce. But the EWG is unfair in their assessment. Let’s see why.

Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries: Why the “Dirty Dozen” list is unfair.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization known for their annual “Dirty Dozen” list. In this list they declare the produce that’s most contaminated with pesticides. In this year’s list the “winner” was strawberries. The EWG’s recommendation? That “you always buy organically grown berries.”

The EWG bases their research on work done by the government. In particular, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts annual sampling of different fruits and vegetables and then tests them for pesticide residues. They then release their data in public at the Pesticide Data Program page.

The EWG took the government’s data and ran further statistical analysis. That’s how their “Dirty Dozen” was born.

Part of the reason that strawberries topped this year’s Dirty Dozen is that almost all 176 samples of strawberries that were measured had detectable pesticide levels and about 40% of them had residues of 10 or more pesticides. There was even a strawberry sample with 17 different pesticide residues!

Now the recommendation to go organic sounds like it’s fair, right?

Before you jump to this conclusion, let’s see what the Environmental Protection Agency says:

Overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern.

The EPA did not single out strawberries as “bad.” Instead, the EPA is happy with the results. Why? Because those pesticide residues are in the “safe zone.” Actually, more than 99% of all produce tested was found with pesticide residues below the EPA tolerance level.

This refers to the common saying “the dose makes the poison.” Take one aspirin and you’re good. You no longer feel your headache too! Take a packet of aspirins and things might not look that good for you.

Or eat a pear and you’re good, despite the fact that pears naturally contain formaldehyde, a highly toxic compound that can even cause death. Pears just don’t have enough formaldehyde to affect your health.

This is what is happening with those pesticide residues too. Because they are in the safe zone, the fact that strawberries contain many different pesticide residues is not particularly meaningful.

This is part of the reason why the EWG’s Dirty Dozen method has been criticized over and over. They focus on counting the number of pesticide residues but they don’t take into account whether that has any effect on our health. They don’t take into consideration that some pesticides are more or less toxic than others. They just lump everything together as if they’re equal and discard tolerance levels. Oh-oh.

In fact, in 2011 Winter and Katz published in the Journal of Toxicology a scientific paper criticizing the EWG’s methods:

It is concluded that (1) exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides on the twelve commodities pose negligible risks to consumers, (2) substitution of organic forms of the twelve commodities for conventional forms does not result in any appreciable reduction of consumer risks, and (3) the methodology used by the environmental advocacy group to rank commodities with respect to pesticide risks lacks scientific credibility.

In fact, they found that “all pesticide exposure estimates were well below established chronic reference doses (RfDs). Only one of the 120 exposure estimates exceeded 1% of the RfD (methamidophos on bell peppers at 2% of the RfD), and only seven exposure estimates (5.8 percent) exceeded 0.1% of the RfD.”

Ok let me explain what a reference dose means (Wikipedia).

A reference dose is the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum acceptable oral dose of a toxic substance. An oral reference dose (abbreviated RfD) is:

An estimate, with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of magnitude, of a daily oral exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects during a lifetime.

In other words, consume a toxic substance at the reference dose every day for the rest of your life and you’ll be fine.

So when Winter and Katz say that only one of the 120 exposure estimates exceeded 1% of the RfD – this means that the exposure level was 100 times lower than the reference dose.

Yup, we’re talking about THAT level of magnitude.

Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries: No good reason to invest double for organic.

So if pesticide residues are not really a cause for concern for strawberries, then why does the EWG recommend to buy organic?

From the EWG website:

“It is startling to see how heavily strawberries are contaminated with residues of hazardous pesticides, but even more shocking is that these residues don’t violate the weak U.S. laws and regulations on pesticides in food,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Analyst.

In other words – the pesticide residues are in the safe zone. So they blame the government tolerance levels as “weak” to support their claim to go organic.

A few thoughts about this.

  • First, they don’t specifically say what tolerance levels are weak and for which substances. They just make a generic claim.
  • Another thought – they trust the government to collect the produce samples and do the analysis for them, but they don’t trust them when it comes to tolerance levels.
  • Final thought – making a “trust” claim invokes fear. If you can’t trust the tolerance levels, then of course you’ll buy organic – just in case.

So let’s address this generic, non-specific claim with a brief overview about how scientists establish reference doses.

We talked about the reference dose earlier, or the amount you can consume daily for years and be fine. How is this really calculated?

Scientists review studies examining the health effect of a substance. They find the upper level of a substance that gives no “statistically or biologically significant indication of the toxic effect of concern.”

So consuming this substance at this level daily gives no effects whatsoever.

Then, they divide this level by 10 if the studies are on humans, or 100 if the studies are done on animals. This is called the uncertainty factor.

So just in case, the government takes the safe level and decreases it by a magnitude of 10 or 100 depending on where the studies are coming from.

You see, the “just in case” thinking is already embedded in the regulations to keep us safe.

Food and agriculture speaker Dr. Steve Savage helped me see this from another perspective as well. Remember that more than 99% of samples were below tolerance levels? Let’s check this out about the samples that exceeded tolerance levels:

If you just look at the rare cases where detections were over the tolerance it is usually by a small factor. The tolerances typically have a 100x safety factor. Green beans had the biggest issue with being over tolerance but they come out as #20 for EWG.

So maybe it’s green beans that should have been ranked by the EWG, but no, they weren’t.

Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries: But what about fumigants?

organic strawberries vs conventional strawberries
Fumigants are substances that control soil-borne fungal diseases and weeds. The EWG goes at length about them on their strawberry page

Right at the beginning of their write-up the EWG warns: “What’s worse, strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.”

I don’t even know where to start with this. Jaw-dropping volumes? So they suggest farmers don’t follow labels and just do whatever – even though they later suggest that it’s the farmworkers’ health that’s most at stake here? Also, note the (scary) associations they want you to make by talking about “chemical warfare” and “killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.”

There are two interesting facts about their recommendation to go organic based on the fact that organic growers don’t indeed use fumigants.

First, you the consumer cannot ingest fumigants. The soil is treated with them, not the plants themselves. You won’t find leftover fumigants on your strawberries. So whether you go organic or conventional makes no difference to you personally.

The EWG recommends fumigants so that you support the organic industry because fumigants may be bad for farmworkers’ health and for the people who live near strawberry farms.

Second, strawberry nurseries do use fumigants. And organic farms buy plants that have been born on fumigated soil.

What are strawberry nurseries? They are facilities that grow baby strawberries. Farmers buy strawberries from them to plant on their fields. Both organic and conventional farmers buy from the same nurseries.

If the strawberries are matured in an organic farm, then they’ll gain the certified organic label.

However those strawberries as babies were living in fumigated soil. The federal code allows organic farmers to use strawberry starts grown in fumigated soil if there are no organic starts “commercially available.”

So even organic strawberries are not really organic.

EWG also mentions methyl bromide, a fumigant that was found to be dangerous for the Ozon layer and is now being phased out.

I asked strawberry expert Prof. Kevin Folta from the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville, to explain the controversy:

Methyl bromide has been banned by the Montreal Protocols since 2003. It has been used in CA under what’s called a “Critical Use Exemption” which means that growers can use it, if they can find it and pay for it. It is not being produced for agriculture and we have not had it available in FL for some time.

Growers scale back, using small amounts in conjunction with other fumigants. Fumigants control fungus, nematodes and weeds. It is applied under the plastic where the plants are grown rather than sprayed above. They worked great. Methyl bromide was very effective but had environmental concerns, so it was appropriately banned. Now we see new weeds, new diseases, and unprecedented nematode pressure. It is amazing what Methyl bromide was able to suppress! But farmers continue on.

Methyl bromide is set to be completely phased out by 2017, so this is not going to be an issue in the near future anyway. Scientists are now researching new strawberry varieties that are less susceptible to soil-borne illnesses. However, this process will take years. In the meantime, farmers need to make due with less effective ways to control soil diseases and somehow manage to keep strawberry production up.

Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries: The verdict.

  • Do organic strawberries contain fewer pesticide residues? Yes, that’s usually the case with organic produce.
  • Are organic strawberries pesticide-free? No, they are not. Organic uses pesticides too, and the substances that they use can be more toxic than the ones used on conventional farms.
  • Do pesticide residues really matter? No, they are in the safety zone (and remember that “just in case” mentality is already embedded in how those government limits are set.)
  • Do fumigants make a difference? No, you cannot find them on your berries, plus organic strawberries are grown in fumigated soil making them not really organic.
  • Are organic strawberries more expensive than conventional? Absolutely. They often cost 50% or even 100% more.

So what’s the verdict here?

In my opinion, if you have the choice between those two, and if you have the money too, then choose based on how fresh or ripe they seem when you are at store.

Now if price is an issue, I’d say go conventional. I know some people just buy fewer strawberries so they can buy organic within their budget, but the result is they don’t really gain any benefits from that choice while they miss out on the health benefits of strawberries.

When I asked Nutrition Prof. Tim Crowe from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia about why we should eat strawberries anyway, he directed me to this 2007 study:

While blueberries get lots of attention for their health benefits, all berries which include strawberries have plenty of health positives. While strawberries a good source of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants, they’re also high in the plant pigment anthocyanin. Anthocyanin gives strawberries their red colour and for us, it has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic activities and is also linked to improved heart health.

Do you really want to eat less fruit, just in case, esp. when the government has already taken the “just in case” factor into consideration before you?

As for the “Dirty Dozen” Prof. Folta was blunt: “The Dirty Dozen is another pack of lies that are being used to trash conventional growers.”

What strawberries are you buying at the store? What helps you make that choice? Post your answer in the comments below.

 

References

The Pesticide Data Program of the USDA

United States Department of Agriculture, Pesticide Data Program, Annual Summary, 2014

United States Department of Agriculture, 2010 – 2011 Pilot Study Pesticide Residue Testing of Organic Produce, November 2012

Not easy for strawberry growers to avoid methyl bromide, Visalia Times-Delta, 2015

Melody M. Bomgardner, Strawberries In Peril Because Of Fumigant Phaseout, Chemical & Engineering News, Volume 93 Issue 23 | pp. 18-19

Carl K. Winter and Josh M. Katz, Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues from Commodities Alleged to Contain the Highest Contamination Levels, J Toxicol. 2011; 2011: 589674.

Mazza GJ, Anthocyanins and heart health. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2007;43(4):369-74.

100 Responses to Dirty Dozen: Organic Strawberries vs. Conventional Strawberries.

  1. I’m unsure what to do after reading this article. I have been battling strange severe food allergies for the past few months. I eliminated all inflammatory foods and tracked every single ingredient I was eating. Finally I figured out it’s pesticides that cause the reactions I’m having. I have reacted to almost all the fruits/veggies on the dirty dozen, but when I eat those same organic fruits/veggies, I don’t react. I have considered buying conventional and doing the vinegar rinse, but I feel if I’m not reacting to organic, I should just buy organic. It might be more expensive, but it saves me money in the long run, as I don’t end up in the ER. To me, there must be something more chemical or more toxic about the conventional fruits/veggies that are causing these reactions. What do you think?

    • First – do you wash produce before consumption?

      Now my thoughts: Organic pesticides are not less toxic than conventional ones. You can read more about that here: http://fitnessreloaded.com/pesticides-organic-food-not-safer/

      Also, with so low residues, what you say about organic vs. non-organic doesn’t make sense to me. Have you done a food allergy skin test?

      When I used to have severe allergies I had no idea what to do to improve my situation. After getting negative on food allergies from the skin test I thought it was gluten. It must be gluten! Something must be causing this! (I had no other reason to suspect gluten, but it’s vilified in general so…)

      So I started doing gluten-free experiments. The first two were successful, but the third one was not. If I had stopped at the first two I’d thought it was gluten causing my allergies and hence I would have not discovered the true cause.

      So once I realized that it was not gluten, I kept digging. I don’t know how I missed the correlation with stress/anxiety/fear, which was the actual problem for me. Now I know exactly what to do at the first sign of allergy before my allergy becomes too intense.

      Hope this helped!

    • Please see my response to Roy below. I also wanted to mention I read your book and loved it.

    • Awesome Sheryl! Would love it if you left a review letting others know about what you liked, any insights you got, etc. 🙂

    • Sheryl,
      Did you really end up in the ER once? Did an allergist see you? Did you get food allergy tests? A few years ago I had a sudden severe whole-body skin rash that lasted for 6 months. I got referred to several different doctors and clinics, but they all said, no it was not a food allergy (or any other kind of allergic reaction. Sure enough, it went away on its own. Meanwhile, I had non-medical people telling me it had to be a food allergy.
      *
      It is far better to let qualified (and experienced) medical professionals figure out what is going on than to try to self diagnose. Think about it this way: perhaps there is some other more serious problem that needs treated, or it might be that you have some situation that is actually easily treated. From the immunological science perspective, it is almost impossibly unlikely that you would have developed an allergic reaction to some non-plant material, especially as an adult.
      Good luck, and hope you get past this issue soon!

    • I went to an allergist several times, got every possible allergy test under the sun, and they found nothing. I went to a doc who ordered a full work up of all sorts of labs, and everything was normal. I’ve consulted with an alternative allergy clinic, an acupuncturist, a naturopath, and an herbalist. I also saw a nutritionist, who suggested I start an “anti-inflammatory” diet, where I cut out all foods that cause inflammation. I went on the diet for 3 months, where I cut out all gluten, grains, dairy, soy, nuts and seeds, alcohol, caffeine, or nightshade vegetables. I cut out as much sugar as possible, as well. During that 3 month period, I documented literally every single ingredient that went into my mouth, even down to salt. I stopped eating processed food and stopped eating out. I changed all my products to natural products and documented each of those ingredients as well (although it didn’t really matter, as I only have allergic reactions when I’m eating, not to products). I slowly reintroduced everything back in one at a time, waiting days and then the next one, and no problem. I’ve had 6 allergic reactions since this started 4 months ago. Each time happens as I’m eating and I start with itchy palms, then swelling lips, then a full body rash and hives, swollen lips and tongue. The first time it happened, I went to the ER bc my tongue swelled up. I was able to be treated with Benadryl. The ER Doctor told me that we can develop an allergy to anything at any time. He told me moving forward to take 2 Benadryl immediately when I feel something coming on, and I should always carry an epipen and use it if I have trouble breathing. Luckily I haven’t had to use it yet, as each time the Benadryl has kicked in after about 15-30 mins, and all the symptoms go away. Through my extensive tracking and working with doctors, I’ve been able to notice that each time a reaction has happened a thin-skin non-organic fruit or vegetable has been involved (the ones on the dirty dozen list, specifically). Fruits and vegetables that I’m not allergic to and have no problem when I eat the organic ones. The last reaction I had was last week and I was eating cherries, nothing else, just cherries. They were not organic. I had washed them throughly but did not soak them, and had a bad and immediate reaction. The next day I decided to eat organic cherries and I had no reaction. The allergist told me to start buying organic only, or to do a thorough vinegar rinse of all conventional fruits and veggies, as water alone is not enough. He said it’s entirely possible to have a reaction to pesticides, and that most people who do react to pesticides have a local reaction in their mouth, and not full body, but that everyone is different. I should also mention that in this time I’ve also gotten into yoga and meditation, and generally feel very happy and stress-free.

    • Wow! Sounds like you have tried to cover all the bases, and sounds like you have something going that you think works. Scientifically, what makes your case rather strange is that there is no way that, time after time, all conventional produce would carry the same residues (if they carry any at all), while produce that is labeled “organic” carries pesticide residues, sometimes, of a different type. The whole scenario is very, very, strange, and begs an explanation.
      Anyway, thanks for sharing your story, and hope that someday the underlying cause will become clear so you don’t have to worry about what you eat.
      Best wishes.

    • “Krazy” with a “K”, wow that’s low. Why? Because I care about my health? Because I care about getting to the bottom of what’s ailing me? Why are you even here if you don’t want to be supportive of someone who cares about their health? And why are you negatively commenting on someone’s comment who is clearly going through a hard time? I’m going to be the bigger person here, and hope for that you never have to sit in an ER with a swollen rash and hive covered body, a swollen tongue, and the anxiety that anaphylaxis brings. When after that experience, everything you put in your mouth is terrifying because you don’t want to die. In the end, only kindness matters. Remember that, and don’t be such an asshole.

    • Sheryl, Organic fruits also are sprayed with pesticides, and over 45% test positive for banned synthetic pesticides.

      So I will be the bigger man and politely tell you to seek out a mental health professional. Psychosomatic disorders are real, and they need a professional to treat them. Good luck and I wish you the best.

    • Dear Hyperzomie, My friends and I have a bet on weather or not you are obese. If you are not a fat piece of S#it please provide link with your pic. If you are fat and unhealthy with huge stomach please take your roundup squirter and shove it up your bum and do three squirts.

    • I understand your point totally. And maybe it would have been nicer and more productive to say that first, rather than just calling someone “Krazy”. And I completely agree with you that psychosomatic disorders are real. I was eating a salad one day at work and I started to feel a little strange and itchy. My coworker asked if I was ok and said I was covered in patches, I looked in the mirror and saw, and she suggested going to the ER because they were spreading quickly. That was the first time it happened and I was confused bc it never happened before. In that case, I don’t think it’s something I manifested. When I went to the allergist, my blood tested very high for histamine levels. I spent a few days scared to eat after that, and got on the anti-inflammatory diet. Once on the diet, I felt good about all the things I was eating, and my anxiety went away, weeks and weeks passed before I was eating an apple one day and got itchy again. I was visiting a friend at her office and had strawberries and the same thing happened. I should mention we grow a lot of fruits and veggies on our own, and spray it the most natural pesticides and in the smallest amounts, and those have not bothered me. I’m not saying I’m allergic to all pesticides on conventional fruits and veggies. I think there must be some strains in particular that my body doesn’t like, because it only happens sometimes. I have gone back to eating normally but just with organic fruits/veggies and I’m doing fine. Maybe my allergy is something different, but so far this is the only one that makes sense to me. I will leave you with a link of an interesting study about this.

    • I did, and it is about streptomycin, an Organic approved pesticide for the treatment of blights in fruits (used heavily on Organic apples to fight fire blight). Once again not a Organic versus Conventional issue.

      This is why I dont think that your allergy issue has anything to do with the production method of the food.

      The only thing that makes any sense to me is that you may have an allergy to something that naturally occurs in some crops, and certain varieties of the same crop may have higher levels in them.

    • Oh you mean the one that stated that 95% of samples met the organic regs and the results should not be used as representative of the msrket as a whole? I keep forgetting that you are not a scientist and clearly do not understand how to properly interpret data. Your PLOS paper results used mixed data from developing and developed countries and the conclusions are skewed by data where seeds and inputs are much less expensive. Stick to farming and leave science and data interpretation to others.

    • So are you saying that over 45% of organic food should be assumed to be contaminated by BANNED Pesticides? Is that why people pay more for Organic? You do know that they test conventional food as well and 40% is free from pesticides (All pesticides including organic approved ones)

      Yea! Organic!! we have a slightly lower synthetic pesticide load than conventional….

      I keep forgetting that you have no understanding of agriculture and you think that Organic farmers are not cheating,,, so funny.

      And what did the PLOS paper say about developed countries?

      Wow, for a data interpretation master you totally suck. Maybe you should take up street sweeping?

    • We can all see that you are an industry PR astroturfer who is here to spin the narrative to favor your industry’s objectives.

      You have been exposed here.

    • Hilarous! Ken Gallaher using one of his sockpuppet accounts.

      Everything you post traces back to Level 3’s connection to your house. You’re not clever.

    • Nonsense.

      Conventional crops are cultivated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are not permitted in organic crops.

      You claim is a lie.

    • Sorry, I think you lying again and I’m not willing to go on your goose chase to try and prove your false claim.

      Your claim is a lie.

    • Nope the link is above, Get your home care nurse to show you how to use a computer.

    • 96 % of organic food meets or exceeds USDA requisitions for organic food pesticide contamination. Test often show the minute residues that are caused by pesticide drift and contamination in rainwater.

      Compare that with cancer causing Roundup laden GMO foods which are all contaminated with one and often more chemical pesticides.

      You can try and spin this, but spending a little more on clean organic foods saves money on healthcare costs down the line.

    • Does Not change the fact that over 45% of Organic foods contain Banned pesticides.

    • Organic food has far fewer pesticide residues that convention and cancer causing Roundup laden GMO foods.

      You are trying to spin a narrative that ignores the actual reality to the benefit of the GMO dirty food industry

    • Well I have evidence that they have a tiny bit less pesticides on them, some have more some less. What do you have as evidence???

    • The evidence show up when people who switch to clean organic food see the pesticide residues in their body greatly diminish or disappear in the first 30 days.

      You will have a hard time selling your industry PR astroturfer dis-info to those who have seen dramatic improvement in their health after they switch to clean organic food

    • It is not clean as in free from Ag chemicals as I clearly showed you. So show me some evidence…..

      dramatic improvement in their health after they switch to clean organic food”

      Would that be before or after they get hepatitis from the Organic berries?

    • How much do they pay you to cast false aspersions on the clean organic food that your industry doesn’t make a penny from?

    • There is much more food borne contamination issues in convention and GMO cancer causing Roundup laden GMO foods by magnitudes that there is in organic food.

    • Citation needed*
      Oh yeah, there are none that support this claim. Only propaganda and activist blogs. Shocking.

    • LOL, you can’t deny the fact that food borne contamination affects conventional and GMO foods as well so that response is the best you can do.

    • Are you trying to claim that all organic berries may cause hepatitis? Shame on you for trying to scare people away from healthier organic foods just because of a recall on berries that just happened to be organic. Other food types have been recalled for various reasons, are you scared of those as well? But maybe hyperzombies never eat anyway.

    • There you go again, implying that people will get hepatitis if they eat organic berries. Don’t you ever get tired of trying to mislead people? Any type food can become tainted, not just organic. i will continue to choose organic, I won’t be fooled by people like you who are trying to scare people away from healthier delicious organic berries.

    • You are the troll, you havent added anything to the discussion other than shill accusations..

    • I have and U am sure the moderator has as well. I guess you will have to log on with one of your other accounts once you are banned from this one.

    • Are you saying you know the moderator will ban people who have a different opinion than you? You probably hope so, people who are pro-GMO/pesticides fear the truth being told.

    • Readers can see the comments for themselves, you seem to forget that fact. You focus on troll accusations because you can’t dispute the truth in razorjack’s comments, that’s so obvious.

    • You have a warped sense of humor, but that’s to be expected from the sort of person that would defend the poisoning of our food supply. Thanks for making it obvious to readers here.

    • Except no one is poisoning the food supply, Dumb Debbie. This has been explained to you many times.

      Should we have another discussion about who Paracelsus was and why his work was important?

    • Citation required.

      But you won’t provide one, because you know you’re making stuff up.

    • You can’t provide proof of any of your outrageous claims because you’re a high school dropout that’s spent his life in menial foodservice jobs.

    • You poor thing. Still playing that absurd, “fake farmer” meme, huh?

      Three times on this thread alone in a matter of minutes. No wonder people call you Dumb Debbie Owen!

    • That statement doesn’t surprise me one bit. This is the same fake farmer who put down health care workers, now he is putting down food service workers. You really believe being a fake farmer that defends the poisoning of our food supply is better than those who serve others? That is just so pathetic.

    • I flag every post that makes baseless shill accusations, and the one where he says “you’re trolling me. flagged.” That makes me happy. Literally 30 posts in the last 10 minutes.

    • It looks like they are dispatching more of the industryPR astroturfer mob who are sent here to spin the narrative for the corrupt GMO pesticide industry.

      Fact is, I don’t provide proof for agenda driven industry PR astroturf operatives

    • Thank you! And by the way, it isn’t every time I eat conventional fruits/veggies, but every time it’s happened I am eating one of those. So I don’t think it’s all pesticides. There must be a certain kind.

    • I agree with Roy, the situation seems very strange and the assumption that it’s all types of conventional produce that are causing this while organics are fine does not stand up to me. Anyway, I hope you get better and find more clues about the underlying cause soon!

  2. I will choose unwashed, from the earth strawberries in the most affordable form possible. I figure the short term gain of supporting local farms, conventional or not, and health benefits of all those yummy vitamins and minerals, outweighs long term low dose exposure to toxic chemicals. I mean I’m inhaling toxic chemicals in the world we live in anyway. Also, for those of us on a budget…it would just be insane to avoid all berries and fruits and veggies simply because you can’t afford organic, but can afford conventional. Really people, look at the source. Does your food come 3000 miles away? That matters more. Excessive fossil fuel usage, that supports an inefficient food industry, or supporting your local farmer. Someone you can go visit and see how they produce their fruits and veggies.

  3. All berries should have pesticides at this point unless you want maggots in them. The spotted winged fruit fly is all over the USA and loves berries and will lay eggs in fruit that is not ripe. The choice is to eat wormy berries, eat berries with pesticides, or grow your own with netting.

  4. I appreciate your perspective. After living near the central coast of California for decades and witnessing first hand the methods of conventional strawberry farming and visiting several organic and sustainable farming operations in the same area, I discovered a distinct difference. Especially after talking to farm workers. Forget the difference in quality, texture and environmental impact. How about supporting the little guys who don’t have to justify any toxicity because there’s none? Who are not motivated by profit but belief. My perspective is I can’t trust big farm, the government or the media anymore. For all I know, you’re a think tank. Or maybe I am!?! I’m just grateful I’ve been able to see things first hand and make my own decision about organic versus conventional instead of relying on the opinions of others.

  5. My understanding of how the body processes food is that there are some toxins that get stored up and some that get flushed. For the ones that get stored up, the process can store them up for an entire lifetime. These stores of toxins can eventually overflow, meaning that some of the toxin produces symptoms because it goes to a place that is sensitive to it. One can help reduce the size of one’s toxin stores by doing a water fast. Dr. Joel Fuhrman wrote a book, “Fasting and Eating for Health” that explains this.

    I have not looked for a study on the correlation of fluoridated water to osteoporosis, but I suspect that there is a connection because of how our bodies deal with calcium fluoride. That is an effect I don’t think would be discovered (if it exists at all) very quickly because it’s based on the (very) slow buildup of fluoride in bones, displacing calcium, I think, or something like that.

    Roy Williams wrote “It is far better to let qualified (and experienced) medical professionals figure out what is going on than to try to self diagnose.” I doubt that very much, but it’s probably true for some people simply because their IQs are way too low to be effective. Most people have the brains to pay enough attention to themselves to make good self-diagnoses. Obviously “most” wouldn’t include people who aren’t aware of the psychosomatic effect that causes us to perceive symptoms when we read about them (can you feel that itchiness from insect bites on your legs right now? There aren’t any, but if you put your mind to it, you can still feel them.)

    I am a self-diagnoser – or, more accurately, I take responsibility for understanding how my body works and paying attention to what I put into it. Because I am afraid of the buildup of toxins, I eat only organic strawberries, fool that I am. I take another approach too, which is to fast every now and then to give my body a chance to flush out or metabolize toxins so they don’t escape their containers and upset me.

  6. My understanding of how the body processes food is that there are some toxins that get stored up and some that get flushed. For the ones that get stored up, the process can store them up for an entire lifetime. These stores of toxins can eventually overflow, meaning that some of the toxin produces symptoms because it goes to a place that is sensitive to it. One can help reduce the size of one’s toxin stores by doing a water fast. Dr. Joel Fuhrman wrote a book, “Fasting and Eating for Health” that explains this.

    I have not looked for a study on the correlation of fluoridated water to osteoporosis, but I suspect that there is a connection because of how our bodies deal with calcium fluoride. That is an effect I don’t think would be discovered (if it exists at all) very quickly because it’s based on the (very) slow buildup of fluoride in bones, displacing calcium, I think, or something like that.

    Roy Williams wrote “It is far better to let qualified (and experienced) medical professionals figure out what is going on than to try to self diagnose.” I doubt that very much, but it’s probably true for some people simply because their IQs are way too low to be effective. Most people have the brains to pay enough attention to themselves to make good self-diagnoses. Obviously “most” wouldn’t include people who aren’t aware of the psychosomatic effect that causes us to perceive symptoms when we read about them (can you feel that itchiness from insect bites on your legs right now? There aren’t any, but if you put your mind to it, you can still feel them.)

    I am a self-diagnoser – or, more accurately, I take responsibility for understanding how my body works and paying attention to what I put into it. Because I am afraid of the buildup of toxins, I eat only organic strawberries, fool that I am. I take another approach too, which is to fast every now and then to give my body a chance to flush out or metabolize toxins so they don’t escape their containers and upset me.

  7. I disagree that there is ANY safe level of pesticides and herbicides. I am a degreed Biologist and

    I have been a student of health and nutrition for 40 years now. Yes, you may eat a serving of some fruit or vegetable and the dose of toxin may well be harmless at that level. BUT many of these toxins are persistent and build up meal after meal after meal after meal. Your poor Liver has to deal with them, many of them are fat soluble and are stored in your fat cells. I had a very close personal friend who was a vegan but did not believe organics were necessary so he ate conventional. . . and bragged about how I was wrong about organics, and then, one day, he decided to lose some weight. . . and ended up in an emergency room and intensive care. As he lost weight, all those toxins he had been so proud of not being damaged by, were flushed out of the fat cells he had been storing them in for decades and flooded his excretory systems faster than they could expel them and did terrible damage to a number of his organs. He died several months later of organ failure. I would wonder how much funding the author of this article got from the pesticide and herbicide producers.

  8. Organic. Why?

    1). Toxicity is in the dose but there is more to the equation: Body Mass. Dosage is measure in mg/kg and the EPA guidance is based on adult body mass. A 180-lb cannot be compared to my 26-lb daughter. That is already and order of magnitude difference in safe dosage.

    2). Allowable exposure levels tend to decrease as detection methods improve. Look at all of the revisions to heavy metal exposure.

    3). Buying organic means less peaticide use as a whole. That less pesticide run-off into our waters (which is not regulated by the EPA) and less exposure for farm workers.

    4). Is $2-$3 per week really significant in terms of your household budget? What else are you spending money on that you do not need?

    5). Washing strawberries in calcium carobonate solution does degrade the pesticides but it also causes the fruit to spoil more rapidly. Organic strawberries stay fresh much longer because they do not require an alkali wash. Are you really saving money when you throw away half the fruit you buy?

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