HAPPY CALIFORNIA STRAWBERRY DAY!! But is it all happy news?

Not national strawberry day, or Colorado strawberry day, or global strawberry day…just CALIFORNIA strawberry day!

Some fun facts:

– 1 serving contains more vitamin C than an orange

Image-Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that help prevent disease, promote anti-aging and healthy brain function

-The French started harvesting strawberries from the forest in the 1300s and were used for medicinal purposes

-The first garden strawberry was in the 18th century, in France

-The strawberry species, F. virginiana, was introduced from Eastern North America to Europe.  Then a French man brought it over to Chile where it mixed with female flowers and resulted into  the modern strawberry that  we know today

-California is the largest strawberry producing state, producing more than 80% of the strawberries in North America

With that said, it should be noted that it is getting harder to buy organic strawberries in California.  One of the reasons California has such high production in strawberries, is the technology and extra measures that growers practice.  Usually a strawberry is quite small, it has been their “daughters” that became bigger and were picked for selling.  These growers create “daughters” by taking plant tissue from the tip of a growing strawberry stem and placing it into a petri dish.  This grows into a plant that produces dozens of “daughter” plants (runners).  These plants are then planted and their “daughters” are taken from them, and on goes the cycle.  This quickly multiplies like breeding bunnies and makes for a lot of fruit.

The process does take awhile, as well as a journey!  These plants start in greenhouses, then off to the warm California’s Central Valleys, and then tucked into the cooler climates of the mountains along the Oregon-California border.  Once harvested, the “mothers” are thrown out.  Now, to protect these crops, growers resort to fumigation.  Chemicals are injected into the soil and then covered up with plastic to seal in the fumes.  Growers that try to stay organic have their extra work cut out for them.  They have to move their crop from field to field, and obviously wait longer for their batch of plants to move to a particular field before they can produce fruit.  However, even organic farmers end up buying their plants from nurseries that used chemicals in their strawberries.

This fumigation has caused a great controversy.  One of its powerful fumigants is  methyl bromide, it is considered very harmful to the ozone layer.  More and more regulations are being put in place due to its toxins, such as creating a certain distance between the chemicals and schools.  The Department of Pesticide Regulation has put together a work group of scientists and other specialists to develop a five-year action plan to accelerate the development of management tools and practices to control soil-borne pests in strawberry fields without fumigants.

Hopefully, we can find our way back to producing the original, sweet tasting, and chemical free fruit we love.  Strawberries are so healthy for our bodies, it would be a shame to defeat its benefits by consuming any traces of chemicals as well as feeling the impacts in our atmosphere down the road.  Let’s be more aware the next time we look at strawberries.  Also, try growing your own, I just planted mine 🙂

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