Spring means strawberries. Bright, plump, red, sweet and juicy. Laden with pesticides. Move over apples, strawberries have stolen your spot as number one on the top of the dirty dozen list.
What am I talking about? For years, the Environmental Working Group has conducted annual evaluations of fruits and vegetables for the amount of pesticide residue that they contain. They publish this list annually and call it the "Dirty Dozen" list. This is the go-to guide for how to prioritize your dollars on organic produce if you cannot afford to buy (or don't always have access to) organic produce all the time. There are several repeat offenders each year: apples, zucchini, strawberries, blueberries, and tomatoes. Apples have been taking home the top prize until recently and strawberries now hold the spot.
Here is what the EWG website says about their program:
EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, updated every year since 2004, ranks pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The guide is based on results of more than 35,200 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. It is important to note that the samples are tested for pesticides after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce is thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies. Every day, consumers rely on EWG's Shopper's Guide to help them make the best choices for their families and reduce their exposures to toxic pesticides
That's all fine and good, but how does that affect you as a consumer? This is your cue to make sure the strawberries you eat are certified organic. Bonus if they come from local farmers. And with strawberries in full season right now, this is the time to indulge. If you want to really stock up, then purchase one of the multi-basket flats, wash, trim and slice some for immediate eating and then save the rest for later with this “berry preservation” method:
Wash, dry and cut strawberries into slices or small pieces. Spread them out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and place in your freezer until they are frozen. Once frozen, scoop them up into a zip top plastic bag and store in your freezer for later use. They are great added to smoothies, stirred into hot oatmeal or tossed into salad. This method works great with blueberries and raspberries, too.
Strawberries are worth the extra cost of going organic and not just to avoid pesticides. They offer a great dose of nutrition.. They give us plenty of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. Make the most of strawberry season - buy organic - and try them in a few of our favorite recipes:
Fresh, ripe strawberries are nature's candy. You can always simply wash them, hull them and eat them as is, no recipe needed. What is your favorite way to enjoy strawberries?