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Strawberry Controversy: Organic, Local, or Just Don’t Eat?

Does “real food” have to mean “organic?”

Can conventionally grown produce still be healthy for you?

Is buying organic worth foreclosure on your home?

I’m going to share some reader emails to open up these questions, and I’m looking forward to rousing conversation in the comments!

Do Strawberries have to be Organic to be Healthy

Should I Prioritize Organic?

I received this email from a reader a few years back (emphasis mine):

I live in SC, and the strawberry season has started here already. I am very anxious to pick and preserve them. I have started to be more real food-conscious since about a year ago. Not that I fed my family badly before, but my views on healthy have changed a lot since. So this is the first time I ever actually think about what kind of strawberries I am going to pick.

We have a few farms around here, and I called them to collect some information.

At one they said they don`t know what the farmer puts on the berries (sounded like it was either an employee or a wife), but “there is nothing on it that will hurt ya”.

The other place said, it was the farmer himself, that they put nitrites and fertilizers, and also some pesticides to keep the bugs down, because otherwise they would not be able to produce berries. He said that SC has strict government regulations on what can be used and they all have to keep track of it and report it, and he says they only use it when necessary.

The third place, that I also did CSA with, says they make their own compost, they only use natural stuff when needed, and they are not certified organic but their practices are organic.

The first two farms sells at $1.50/lb., this last one for $2.50/lb. Also, the first two are within 30minutes, while the last one is about over an hour away.

I am really struggling to decide my priorities here.

How can I really know what the first two farmers are saying? They seemed not even to understand my questions. The third farmer knew exactly what I was talking bout. With farmers markets opening soon, I am going to face the same problem, that they are not really sure how to answer my questions and I am not really sure they tell me the truth or that I can trust them.

Strawberries are on the dirty dozen list, so I should be careful. But it is so hard to keep organic/natural a priority when I have a much cheaper option, and I sometimes like to lie to myself, that I don`t see anything on that berry anyways, it might not even be so bad.

I feel like my head is full with all the info I read on all the real food blogs, and I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes downright scared that I am poisoning my family. Especially my baby.

I almost feel like I follow the rules like a religion, with faith, but not a lot of real reasons for myself. I want to know why I do it and also, not to be so scared. So I just don`t know which strawberries to pick. And while it might seem like a stupid problem to have, but for me it is big, because I feel so burdened by what I feed my loved ones.


My response at the time was:

You sound like you’re right in my head! We had the same problem with strawberries a few years back when I was making the switch to more clean eating. The organic farm’s berries were tiny and heinous to pick, to exacerbate the problem.

If it were me, I’d probably end up picking once at the organic place and once at the other and saving the organic for the kids. 🙂 Because I would like to believe that it can’t hurt me THAT much either!

As for the questions, you’ll get a lot of answers like that second guy. Unless he seems super sincere on the “we only use it when we need it,” doesn’t seem to belittle your question, and gives at least one example of something natural they do, I’d guess he’s in the basic majority of how most farmers farm – with the chemicals as the norm.

No farmer would purposely use chemicals if they weren’t needed, because that wastes money. The bottom line determines that people use less, but it’s not necessarily a “green” or “safer” option.

So I have no idea which of the first two would be the best bet; you might want to call the first farm back and get someone who knows more.

SO tough. I know. But just remember that you’re doing good for your family even in buying locally and giving your kids the experience of being in the patch – at least your berries are picked and preserved freshest, and they aren’t sprayed with anything weird just to help them get trucked across the country and still look good in the store. These old posts might resonate with you:

God bless your efforts, and may we BOTH get less stressed about food…so we don’t die of stress! Bwah! 😉

More recently, I touched on the topic of “perfect nutrition” again, in We’re Not Just Bodies Walking Around.

strawberry picking 2010 (5)

Yes, this is a strawberry patch. Hard to find the berries through the weeds!

strawberry picking 2010

And these are the berries…now I don’t need Frankenberries like you find in the stores this time of year, the size of a toddler’s fist, but these are the BIG berries of the day, and they’re barely the size of my thumbnail.

The Respectful Disagreement

When I shared that email conversation in a KS monthly newsletter last year at this time, I received a pretty heartfelt email from a reader who disagreed with my “one foot on either side of the fence” stance for a number of reasons (emphasis mine):

I am sorry Katie but I disagree with your answer to the woman asking about whether or not to spend a little extra on organic strawberries. In general the state of our food supply is an abysmal mess.

In the United States we prioritize most things before quality food.  Better cars, better blue jeans, better lipstick and shampoo but when it comes to food we wring our hands at spending a few dollars more on quality, something that is less tangible then a label on our butt.

We live in a culture that reveres big plates, buffets and dollar menus. And the state of our health reflects that. I think that there is a better answer . . . for our family I shop using the EWG’s clean fifteen and dirty dozen list and I stick to it.

If I can’t “afford” organic strawberries or I can’t find them at all we don’t eat strawberries.

Strawberries are on the top of the dirty dozen list – there is no good reason to make conventionally grown strawberries a staple in our home. By using these two lists I always have a variety of organic and non-organic but safer choices for my family, and this is an equally important point, I am supporting organic growers both local and not that are using sustainable growing practices.

Local in itself means nothing.  It is a marketing buzz word just like the “Jersey Fresh” moniker in my home state.

I personally have no real interest in supporting a local farmer that relies heavily on pesticides and fungicides, why is that important? That farmer is polluting the water, air and general environment I live in – but because he is “local” I owe him something? Sorry, that grower is going to have to find someone else to sell to. Or maybe he will see that I drive by his farm to pick up my organic CSA share and he will begin the transition.

We are not just kitchen stewards, Katie, we are stewards of this planet and we are leaving a giant mess for our kids.

Thank you for your time.

strawberry picking 2010 (2)

She’s right on many accounts, but sometimes the ideal isn’t what I end up with…at my house. My response:

Thanks for your response… In my area at least, there are many non-organic farmers who use very little junk on the plants and nothing on the berries. So…I go with them. If I didn’t buy strawberries locally, I would buy them frozen and shipped thousands of miles, and how much better on the earth is that? There are no easy answers, I don’t think, when it comes to dealing with the food mess that we’ve created in the world. 🙁

This year, it just so happens that I did u-pick for about an hour by myself with the kids (so we only got 7 quarts, practically nothing once preserved for the winter), and it was at a local place that I didn’t even ask questions at. I was desperate to do some u-picking before the season ended unseasonally early!

I could tell by the patch that they were a low or no chemical farm, though, as the berries were small and there were some weeds that I was happy to see. Then I went to the Farmer’s Market and bought 2 flats (so far) from a guy who is “chemical free.” It’s $4 more than regular flats and wayyyy more than u-pick would be, but we rely on frozen fruit to get us our yogurt through the winter and the fruit rolls to be our emergency car snacks, so it was worth it to me. However – my budget is expanding, so I can do that. In other years, I would have pushed to u-pick elsewhere or bought conventionally grown flats. ???

We all do what we can with what God gives us and must remember that the earth is a temporary home for these bodies. Not that we should exploit or hurt it, ever, on purpose, but that we can’t go beyond our means just to avoid some chemicals.

I received an email just this month from another reader whose husband lost his job just after they bought their dream house. They have a large-ish family and eat only organic foods, plus GAPS, and their food budget is almost two times what they can honestly afford with their current situation.

I was so saddened to read of the family’s plight and the decisions the mother has to make on a daily basis – they’re living as frugally as they can within the confines of organic food, but it’s not even close to enough.

Their house is in danger of foreclosure…I tried to respond with as much love and practicality as I could, since she was asking my advice:

I do think that trusting God is paramount, but I agree that it’s hard! He will give you what you need, and maybe letting go of a little is what He’s trying to teach you…? I don’t personally buy 100% organic for our family, to tell you the truth, although we’re getting closer. I was just doing some research on the state of organics and how many of them are from China – and probably more contaminated that anything from the general pollution over there as well as the lack of oversight.

So even buying what you think is the best might not be in the long run…and I don’t say that to scare you or add any stress (you don’t need it!!) but to remind you that we’re not in charge. Even when we try to be. 😉

But ultimately, by experience I know that choosing organics increases the food budget by 33-50%…which is exactly what you need to cut. So embrace the idea that you’re going to eat FOOD, just food, and as long as it’s in its whole form, you’re okay with it until you get back on your feet.

I don’t know what kind of diet you were eating before, but I’m guessing that organics wasn’t the only thing you changed. If your journey was from processed foods to whole foods, it may have been that more than organics that made the difference. If you’re most concerned about GMO stuff, then skip corn and soy and a few other items (infographic here).

There’s really not that much on it. So your big question is going to be animal products: do you get animal products that have eaten GMO food? If not, you’ll have to get organic meat. I would say eat less of it, but with GAPS…you might just have to do some conventional, or buy some hens…which would make selling the house more difficult.

There’s rarely an easy black-and-white answer for your average American family when asking the question:

RELATED: How to freeze strawberries.

What do we eat?

Organic strawberries might be shipped across the continent.

Local strawberries might be sprayed, but at least they’re fresh – and oh, have you tasted the difference between “just picked” and “shipped from California?” No contest. Just picked = Heaven on earth.

What kind of strawberries do you buy? How do you decide when to prioritize organics?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

93 thoughts on “Strawberry Controversy: Organic, Local, or Just Don’t Eat?”

  1. Tress via Facebook

    Grow my own. They are an easy plant to have. One 5×5 raised garden dedicated to only strawberries. They look beautiful year round. We ate tons this year plus froze 3 gallons.

  2. Maribeth via Facebook

    I forget the exact number, but saw a graphic earlier today about the amount of pesticide used on conventional strawberries.

    I won’t even buy them anymore unless they are organic. That stuff doesn’t “wash off”.

  3. Thanks for this post. We don’t eat all organic, but I try to eat as much organic/local/garden as possible. Last year we put in a patch of strawberries, and this year we picked about seven gallons or so…I probably froze three gallons for smoothies, etc. Probably not enough to last until next year, but we decided to save our money and use what we could get for free more (blackberries – wild and in garden; blueberries at a nearby friend’s house). It has certainly been wonderful to know that those strawberries have had nothing on them at all! Hopefully we can keep this patch going and expand it even more next year!

  4. i have been disabledf or 8 yrs, and unemployed for 3 yrs. so i had to make a change in what i ate and how i ate. i found i had less and less money to spend at the grocery store, being forced to buy at discount stores for basic staples. When a bag of organic apples cost $7, and at the regular store their apples cost $5, but at the discount store they cost $1.99, guess where i’ll be buying my apples with no job? Though i understand where people are coming from, God helps those who help themselves. when i am able to buy better, i am sure i will. for now, unfortunately whatever i can get at the best prices is what i stock in my pantry.

  5. Amy via Facebook

    I just bought a gallon off our local Amish…can’t get much fresher or more organic than that! Piicked this morning and bought at noon. DELIGHTFUL!

  6. Cindy via Facebook

    I agree with the ‘can’t always trust local’ response. We have feed curb, soybean, and tobacco farmers around here.Tons of beef farmers too but you can’t even buy meat from them. Here all growing for the stock yards. Barf. What’s worse is were surrounded by thousands of acres of open land in this very rural part of Nashville.

    So how can you depend on local– They don’t even grow real food. And if they do grow people corn, it’s GMO.

    We have strawberry growers around. But on the you pick you see little besides ants. Hmmm, I say. Only ants on these delicious juicy berries? They say they only spray fungicide at the start of the Sarsi otherwise head have no berries. What can we say or do? Nothing. I too would rather have good fresh local ‘real’ berries, than get plastic berries from California. So while I agree with ‘local DOESNT mean much’, you can keep asking ill you get real answers. If the farmers know their customers are serious, they may take us seriously sooner or later…
    The more vocal we are, the more results we will see.

    We had a guy open up a ‘local’ produce stand last year. He contacted lots of farmers to supply him. He was getting ‘organic’ he said. I’m ok with non- certified organic practices. Anyway, we have a late growing season, so you don’t start seeing tomatoes until mid June because of frost danger till May here. He was selling artichokes and mangoes and avocados. Nothing local about those, no matter when they started. My point? He couldn’t compete with Kroger right down the road that carries organic all year round, and get fresh almost daily…

    Nothing wrong with him doing it. But you can’t stay open all year with a 3-4 month growing season. PS, it’s June and he hasn’t opened yet…. He also wasn’t very savvy about REAL organic and real food and go supplied things in our area.

    So sad with nashville having so much farmland and we can barely get ‘local’ produce without a 50-mile radius…

    That’s why it’s important to belong to WAPF and Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund to get the word out and help farmers who do want to grow real food for US.

    1. Have you ever given thought to the fact that cattle in feed lots don’t come from the no name corporate behemoths that are easy to vilify, but your hard working farmer neighbors (if you’re lucky enough to have farming neighbors)? it’s easy to vilify “big ag” but when you think about the actual people involved…hopefully not so much.

      1. Tonya,

        The hard-working farmer neighbors, for the most part, are pawns for “big ag”. A lot of them end up being victims, too. The feed that the cattle are eating is produced by Monsanto. The cattle might as well be direct products of “big ag”. These farmers are very much entwined with “big ag”, whether they or we like it or not. I don’t think anyone here is bashing the farmers themselves. I don’t hate the players, I hate the game.

        1. do your neighbor farmers tell you that they feel like pawns for “big ag”? Knowing farmers, I don’t know any who feel that way. here’s just one example:

          1. Thanks for the link. It’s a different lens to look through. I’m hoping you’re not mistaking my comments as being harsh towards farmers. I’m born, raised, and still living in Iowa so this is all very familiar to me. Of course these farmers would never refer to themselves as pawns for big ag. I’m referring to how Monsanto views them. Some farmers might not even agree with me there but hey, even I can admit that by shopping at Walmart I’m contributing to their wealth, which makes me squirm a bit. I’ve personally known farmers that don’t like Monsanto and their ways but deal with it to survive.

            To get back to the original point, I still don’t think you can disassociate cattle from Monsanto when they are being fed the feed produced by Monsanto seeds. The cattle farmers are a very important part of Monsanto’s business plan.

            1. First, another farmer perspective on GMOs & how it’s brought their insecticide use down to NONE

              “Thanks to the genetic trait in our cotton that makes it resistant to the boll worm, we did not spray one drop of insecticide on our fields this year. Not one drop. Because we don’t have to spray for the boll worm any longer, the beneficial insects are flourishing and naturally control the other minor pests. Now, if we planted non-GMO cotton, like the farmers in Brazil that Daniel met last spring, we might have to spray our cotton up to 13 times with insecticide. That’s what the Brazilian farmers told him they have to do in order to save their non-GMO cotton crop.”


              back to Monsanto. As someone whose family used round up & who has never heard a farmer speak ill of it, i do not understand why they have become the face of all that is evil in food production. they do not own farmers. farmers are not their pawns. they’re not about to sue every organic farmer. they have invented a product which they protected with a patent. if you want to use that product, you have to buy it. you wouldn’t want people stealing your invention & livlihood would you? no. farmers are customers of monsanto. customers who do have options.

              as for beef farmers being part of the monsanto plan & the comparison of shopping at walmart. is it better to buy beef that was maybe/probably fed monsanto corn or to shop at walmart? when conventionally produced food is being called “crap” by a lot of real foodies, they are essentially saying what they eat is better than what the standard american eats. that is food elitism. coming back to the walmart comparison. i don’t shop at walmart. does that mean my purchases are in some way better/more preferred because they don’t put money in walmart’s pocket?

              1. We will have to agree to disagree here 🙂 There have not been sufficient studies on the long-term effects of GMO foods. These foods should be labelled as such but the biggest roadblock to that happening is Monsanto and that is irritating to a LOT of people. Monsanto has a monopoly on seed and herbicide used by conventional farmers. Monopolies usually aren’t a good thing, as those holding the monopolies tend to abuse their power in the interest of monetary gain.

                I commend you for not shopping at Walmart (regardless of your reasons for not shopping there) but no, it doesn’t make you a better person. Nor am I a better person for preferring grass-fed beef over grain-fed. I’d like to buy grass-fed beef all the time but we can only afford it sometimes. I do not judge people that could afford it all the time but still choose to buy conventionally raised beef. It’s a personal decision that’s really none of anyone else’s business. I sincerely hope you aren’t calling me a food elitist.

                This is a blog for people to share their experiences with feeding their families the best food they can. Everyone’s best is different and it is certainly not a competition.

                1. Tiffany,
                  We do disagree. If you recall from the cnn link I shared, the farmer there mentions that you can buy generic roundup (glycophosphate) & that he had personally sold a lot of it when he worked off the farm. He also mentions another seed company, Pioneer, & there are more.

                  I am not calling you specifically an elitist, but in the “real food” movement in general, I find there’s definitely an undertone of elitism. some moreso than others. when the SAD gets called “crap”, that’s saying its inferior & making food a competition. If I’m eating conventional CA strawberries (easy to come by in WA state) home baked into a white flour scone am I *really* eating crap? When Katie has to write/remind in her blog not to tell someone with financial challenges that their conventional whatever that they can afford is not good enough, that is elitism.

                  as for cotton, i know it’s not eaten, but i used it as an example because this farmer reduced their pesticide use to NOTHING. similar things can & do happen with GMO foods. also, it reduces fossil fuels. No trips back & forth across the field to spray the pesticide. No fuel used to ship the pesticide. & conserves resources – No water used to mix up the pesticide.

                  As for what cotton farmers did w/o pesticides, my guess is, they lost their crop as illustrated by the problems boll weevils caused for the cotton industry.

              2. What a tangled web we weave…how to balance GM with all those pesticides? Oof. What did cotton farmers do before insecticides were invented, do you know? Or did they just lose most of their cotton? It is hard to figure out what to do, for real. I always appreciate the information you share! 🙂 Katie

  7. One more thing…tye two upicks i’ve pucked berries from….were teeming with ants, grasshoppers, and other bugs. That gave me hope that they weren’t sprayed too much, lol. I’d be scared to pick someplace with no bugs….

  8. We are trying to grow our own food, this is the first yr on our farm, and we cannot grow it all…yet. So often, I buy from a local produce stand (they tell me what they grow and what they order), or from upick places. I had a small garden 2 yrs ago, and it was a reality check on the whole organic farming. While we still are going organic, i realize the reality of the insane amount of bugs who invade and devastate crops. (I live in south Alabama….it doesn’t get cold enough to destroy bugs, usually.). I had gorgeous squash plants one day, and wilted/shriveled the next. I had thousands of creepy crawlies dessimate my cucumbers. There was something in the dirt causing my tomatoes to not grow well. Then the squash bugs came. And came. And came… Needless to say, our end amount of home grown produce was nothing like what we expected. So when the local guy says he sprays, I understand. It’s his livelihood. He can barely keep up with his work right now, much less go thru and weekly oil the base of his squash plants so the vine borers don’t destroy his crop. He cannot make a living, either, if he loses all his cukes and squash and zucchini to the squash bugs. I understand wanting to eat organic, and I feel it IS best, yet I am no longer self righteous about the farmer’s decision to spray a bit. I figure, too, that his hand spraying is probably less dangerous than food from china (organic or not), and from monocultre farms that spray and spray the 1000’s of acres. Maybe I am naive, but I choose locally grown right now. And we grow organically ourselves. Just waiting for the garden to grow right now.

  9. Danielle via Facebook

    Sonja there’s a lot of info online about Tattlers, watch a couple youTube vids before you can. I’ve only had one Tattler lid fail and it was because I didn’t wipe the rim well enough. I <3 my Tattler lids.

    The gasket "replaces" the rubber gasket that is a part of conventional lids. It's not attached because over time (many years) the gaskets will wear out, you can just replace them not the lids. So it goes between the jar and the lid.

    Just remember with Tattlers you need to "retighten" after they come out of the canner. The rest of the process is essentially the same.

  10. Oh, the debate! 🙂 We have a place about an hour south of us down in Texas that has strawberries (in a good year) as u-pick. I believe they use some sprays so we did it more for buying local and the picking experience for the kids than anything. But, at $2.50 per lb (picking ourselves), with my husband recently taking a huge pay cut we had to not do that this year. Organic from the health food store are $4.99 a pint, so what strawberries we eat are conventional. 🙁 Not what I would choose ideally but I also can’t see cutting strawberries entirely out of our diet as delicious as they are. In our area, they are not grown. I have NEVER seen them at our farmer’s market. We tried growing some ourselves several time with no success and plants which died off. I can grow other things but have been told it’s just our climate (extreme heat in July and August).

    1. Try growing in pots and bring them indoors in July-Aug. I have been growing strawberries in pots for about 4 years now, we move yearly…

      1. Thanks. With 7 of us I don’t think I could grow nearly enough that way, lol. We go through 3 quarts in one sitting if everyone has some.

  11. Sonja Oglesby via Facebook

    I bought some of the Tattler lids last year, but can’t decide if the gasket goes on top or bottom of it. I’m guessing between the lid and jar, but don’t want to mess up my pickles doing it wrong!

  12. We grow our own now! After strawberry season is over I’m going to commit to buying only organic, if at all. I like the idea of only eating strawberries in season though. It makes them that much more special. We have an overabundance of strawberries right now and I’m freezing some but I think from now on, fresh strawberries will only be eaten in season either from our garden or organic at the store (maybe). We haven’t had pest problems with our strawberries aside from rabbits. We have used no sprays and the berries are beautiful. If you’re able, I highly recommend growing them yourself. They are super easy to care for, as we are not skilled gardeners lol. Ours didn’t produce the first year but now the picking is hard to keep up with 🙂

  13. Why is there no option for “next year grow your own!” All you need is a pot, you don’t even have to have any land! Someone living in an apartment could do it, you could even ask a friend with a garden if you can borrow some space! You know EXACTLY what is put on the strawberries and it will only cost you the price of seeds! If your reason for buying organic is an anyway influenced by a want for sustainability, then growing your own is definitely the best practice.

    1. Strawberries tend to grow from “crowns” (roots) not seeds and do poorly the first year. But I do agree that “grow your own” is viable. I have been growing mine in pots for about 4 years now. We move frequently and I don’t want to risk having to leave them behind.

  14. Jennifer via Facebook

    I picked up some from the no spray stand at Wednesday’s farmers market. They were so yummy.

  15. Katie via Facebook

    Funny, I took the kids strawberry picking yesterday and the same thing came up. It’s an enormous patch and it’s not organic, they spray when needed. Personally, I will always choose local over organic if it comes down to it. I soaked them in Biokleen produce wash and rinsed them really well, so I’m not terribly concerned. At 2.50 a pound plus the enjoyment of picking our own I will make concessions 🙂

  16. Lynn via Facebook

    I couldn’t agree more. I avoid strawberries all year because the taste of ones from my backyard is so much better!

  17. Amanda via Facebook

    Local strawberries are amazing. I’m totally spoiled. I have two local places that grow the same variety but they are grown with different methods- one hydroponically and one conventionally (with pesticides as-needed to save the crop.) They have slightly different flavor profiles but both are really good. Our strawberry season is over though. Wah!

  18. I have been thinking very hard about all of these issues lately, except for us here in Australia the strawberry season is just over. I have spent today researching pesticides in our food and the effects on children and the unborn, and you know, I have come down on the side of your disagreeing poster. Pesticide exposure is just too damn dangerous for children under the age of seven. I usually buy as much as I can afford organically grown and shudder and try not to think too hard about the rest, as long as it’s local, but seriously after today’s session I am better informed. Do some more research and then see how you feel about the nice local family farm using pesticides. Avoid the dirty dozen at all costs! It is well researched and documented the damage pesticides do cause to our children and into the next generation and beyond. There’s no “might be bad, not sure” about it, let alone what’s happening to the environment and people living around the strawberry farm. Your original dissenter is right. Don’t eat strawberries (or the other baddies on the list) if you can’t afford organic. Our health is too important. It’s absolutely not worth it. Autism, lowered IQ, endocrine disruption, behaviour and learning difficulties, ADHD, weight gain and type II diabetes are all things linked to the kind of pesticides found in abundence in strawberries. It won’t be awful living without them until you can grow your own, you might even discover some new favourites and flavours along the way like we did here in Australia when no one could afford bananas until the cyclone wrecked plantations grew back. After a year we barely missed them.

    1. Dom,
      I respect your views and research, and thank you so much! What a good example about bananas, which of course aren’t local ever in the US but are much consumed. If you kept track of any of the links you read on your big research day, seriously, I’d love if you included them here or emailed me. It would be a good jumping off point for me! 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks Katie,
        I have e-mailed you.
        Here’s a good report designed for a consumer-friendly read. Talks about Australian produce but uses mostly US data and studies and has clear explanations on the known and suspected effects of each group of pesticides on unborn babies, children, adults, farmworkers, rural residents and the environment with links to studies. A horrifying read actually! There is a separate chapter devoted to strawberries, as a case study. I assume that US levels are at least as bad as I think our regulations are somewhat tighter.

        Yes, I know it was carried out by an interest group – but it was done with public funding, in the public interest. It would be worth contrasting with some pro-conventional produce sites information and studies.

  19. I have a friend that grows fruit. They pointed out that there is a long list of synthetic chemicals that are can be used on certified organic food. He also said that RoundUp (owned by Monsanto) is on its way to becoming approved for organic produce. I found the list of approved and unapproved things here :

    In the end, I tend to care more about a places ethics than their certification. It is too easy to find big businesses that are certified organic so that they can make a buck, but their food isn’t actually any better. I don’t usually worry too much about if something is organic or not, but I plan on growing some of my own food and shopping at farmers markets a lot this summer and do a lot of canning as well.
    When possible, I would rather support local farms that are doing their best to raise healthy food by whatever means, than support big businesses that care more about their pocket book than the quality of the food.

  20. Our family loves strawberries and unfortunately we cannot afford to purchase organic ones in our area. For 30 years I have picked berries at a local family owned farm. My sisters, mother-in-law and children have all enjoyed this seasonal adventure. The growers explained to me that they do spray the plants some before the fruit appears. Although I would prefer organic, until I have the land to grow my own I feel blessed that we have this option and work hard to balance the rest of our diet with organic produce.

  21. I meant to add that sometimes I tell my kids “Sorry, it’s just not GOOD strawberry season…so let’s wait until they are GOOD before we spend our money on them….’
    Hopefully that will help them realize that there are actually seasons to fruits and veggies where we live (Midwest) and we sometimes have to delay our desires…. :>D

  22. I have to echo what many have said…I simply can’t afford organic strawberries for most of the year. Like now, when they are 2.50 for a pint, it’s a bit of a splurge, but worth it. Frozen, I have to buy year round depending on what we can afford. I’d love to freeze organic from the Midwestern June crop, but I just can’t afford it. SO I balance smoothies with other fruits and breakfasts that aren’t on the dirty dozen list.
    I just wish I could find some decently priced organic green peppers…my DH and my kids definitely miss green peppers! I try not to buy them too often, and I cringe every time I make stuffed GP’s…:>(
    I tried to start my own from seeds (36 plants so that I would have enough!) and they just didn’t survive the weird Chicagoland spring/early summer rain and heat….:>(

  23. raisingcropsandbabies

    As far as strawberries, we buy u-pick ones from a local orchard. They do spray some (they try to keep it minimal if the crop is doing well and are very honest about it). We also pick our peaches and apples at their orchard as well (if we happen to run out over winter, then I’ll buy organic ones at the store)! This might be a no-no to some, but they are a good family business and my husband’s family has been patronizing them for 2 generations and I’d much rather support them then some big company of organics half the country away (like you said: gas comes into play, pollution, local economy).

    I am biased though as we are farmers who do not raise organic crops or livestock. We pasture them and grass feed them, raise non-gmo corn, don’t spray our gardens, but are not organic.

    The way I see it: A great number of us, conscious farmers, want to pass on our legacy (the farm and the love of this land) to our children and to their children. We are the 6th generation on this farm and hope our children will carry it on. If we thought the way we are farming was hurting this land thus jeopardizing our kids’ future and the legacy of what we spent our WHOLE lives building… we would change it.

    So while, yes, I do buy certain things organic, I tend to buy locally mostly. (Fortunately, we raise our own meat and milk our own cows, eggs, garden, etc and we don’t have to buy tons). I do not live my life in fear over what will happen to my children if they eat something not organic. I’ve learned in this life, a person can do everything right and it doesn’t always equal a the perfect outcome. 1+1 doesn’t always equal 2 with humans. Our whole world is fallen and broken and that means organic is fallen and broken too. I never put my trust in anything other than the Lord.

  24. We eat conventional strawberries *gasp*
    Organic has been offered once through my local food co-op for $6 a pint. I have a large family and a pint lasts one day. I can get conventional for 1.50 a pint. There are a few u picks about 45 min away that I would like to support (although I am sure they are sprayed) but I am in my 1st trimester with #5 and don’t feel like it.
    We have good quality meat products and grow a large garden. I buy organic apples often but that is about the only fruit or veggie I buy organic.
    I live in a small, rural area and organics just aren’t widely available. I prefer to support local farmers over the ones available in grocery stores.
    Our food budget is the only part of our budget that is flexible. We are proud of all the cuts we have made but we still need more room-so not many organics!
    I don’t worry about it anymore. It used to keep me up at night-but I realized that food can’t save me. Only Jesus can do that. I pray and try to make wise decisions and then leave the rest to Him!

    1. What a great thought process on this. I live in a small rural area , too where organics are readily available and if they are they’re usually much more expensive than the others. We do have one local farmer who is no spray that sells at our Wednesday farmer’s market, so I try to hit his stand before the others. He’s reasonably priced and his produce is excellent. In the end though, you are right, food won’t save me, only Jesus will. Great insight 🙂

  25. Even in California, “shipped from California” strawberries are bleah. My mom brought by some organic grocery store berries a couple of weeks ago that she wasn’t going to get eaten before they passed their prime, and… yuck. Pink and too-firm and flavorless. Into smoothies they went!

    Where I live, there are a lot of very small berry farms (an acre or two). I am confident that their residue is nothing like conventionally grown grocery store strawberries. And I wonder how much worse it is than industrial-organic (even grown in US) strawberries. With such a small crop, they wouldn’t be fighting pests nearly as much as a large-scale operation. Before kids, that’s what I bought.

    This year we’ve just bought maybe 6 baskets of strawberries–5 at an organic stand at our farmers’ market and one at our natural foods co-op. They are expensive, but a treat, and in another couple of weeks our fruit options will be much broader and cheaper (lots of unofficially-organic plums available, etc.), so for now I’m dealing.

    My tendency, when purchasing organic (or similar) foods, has evolved (for the moment) into prioritizing meats & animal products highest, followed by GMO-prone items, then things-we-eat-a-ton-of (peanut butter, for example), THEN dirty dozen/clean15, then all-other-food.

    I try to avoid organic foods from other countries, both because I am not sure I trust the organic standard outside the US and because of carbon footprint, but I make some exceptions to that, when I am more confident about a particular product.

    I ***wish*** that there was a dirty dozen for ALL food types (including nuts, grains, and even animal products). I feel like I am always guessing with nuts and grains.

    And I am so thankful for all the comments above–to know that there are lots of us trying to figure this out.

  26. The idea that it takes an incredible amount of work to pick strawberries, that in turn have a short season, makes one wonder if perhaps God’s intention is that this fruit, like all fruit, is meant to being eaten in the season and in the quantity that is physically possible. The extraordinary means needed to grow, harvest, transport and save the quantity that we think should be in our lives is perhaps a standard we may need not strive for.
    There’s nothing like a freshly picked fruit that is nourishing as well as tasty. I’m passionate about strawberries, but I’m okay to wait all year for that short, wonderful season.

    1. Mark,
      I think about effort a lot when we eat a great deal of nuts, too – they should take so long to get into that maybe they’re not supposed to be eaten in great quantities. I’m thankful God allowed humans to create freezers and dehydrators, too, though – we are just finishing up our home-made strawberry fruit rolls that we picked last June… 🙂 Katie

  27. I always appreciate your “non-judgmental, make the best choice in your situation and trust God” opinions, Katie! Thanks for being a voice of support and love for all of us that are doing our best to nourish our families. God bless you. (and keep blogging!) You were the first blogger that introduced me to whole foods and being a good steward of the earth. My life has changed much for the better since then. Thank you!

  28. Thanks for the this post. I know that strawberries top the list of the dirty dozen but finding organic strawberries here in Central PA is nearly impossible (how can we have such a huge amount of farms and so few organic strawberries?). I gave up on trying to grow them myself but may try again after reading this. We live on just a 1/4 acre and have a fairly big garden for our yard but dh feels that we need an area for the kids to play in, lol. We do try to buy local, as I do feel if nothing else, I should be supporting local and we do have one amish farmer who is non certified organic that doesn’t use sprays and has strawberries but never enough to buy a flat of 🙁 His strawberries and other fruits and veggies are the best tasting ones.
    Thanks again 🙂

  29. This is a difficult question! Here are my personal compromises at this point in time:

    We almost never buy fresh strawberries. With only 3 people in the family, we’d have to eat a lot at once to prevent them from going bad. We don’t want to make jam. We don’t have much freezer capacity. If I see organic strawberries at a reasonable price, I will consider buying them, but it rarely happens in Pennsylvania.

    Our CSA farm provides strawberries, about 3 pints a year typically, which are not completely organic–they are very clear about what is used on them and why. They taste fabulous! So we enjoy those, but they are usually the only fresh strawberries in our home.

    Organic strawberry jam is reasonably priced at Costco. It’s a staple in our home. Other than that, for the most part we buy other fruits instead of strawberries–fruits that are not in the Dirty Dozen or that are less expensive and more available organic.

    However, we do not restrict strawberry eating at parties or when visiting others’ homes. Yeah, the berries are probably not the safest, but life is short and strawberries taste great and are one of the most nutritious fruits.

    1. This is my view as well. We have Organic Strawberries (for $5 per pound!) at my local coop, which are worth getting once or twice. Otherwise, we dont eat a lot of fruit, and I would prefer to buy organic jam instead of making it.

      That said, we dont eat a lot of fruit in my house, so fruits are a special treat anyways 🙂

  30. Like another of your readers, I too shop with the dirty dozen/clean fifteen lists. This combo lets me make the best choices I can for my family. I shop weekly at my farmers market and do trust the farmers when they say they are using “organic” practices. In regards to strawberries, I do always buy the organic strawberries. If I can’t get them I don’t buy them. In my area (So. Cal.), they are one of the most heavily pesticided fruit grown. That being said, I don’t fuss at my family or friends and refuse strawberries from them. We are all just doing the best we can.

  31. I do my best to buy organic of the things we eat the most (apples) and conventional when the budget just doesn’t allow for the extra cost. The stress of trying to balance is all can drive you crazy. Having just completed treatment for breast cancer, I sometimes find myself in tears trying to figure out what to feed my family. I WANT everything to be completely free of ALL toxins and I WANT it all to come from farmers down the road who follow sustainable, organic methods. But money is a variable that I have to consider and I can’t always get what I want. So I have to pray hard that God keeps us safe and make the best choices possible.

  32. Julie @ Seeking The Old Paths

    Wow, the timeliness of this post is amazing. We just got the Genetic Roulette DVD in the mail last night. We’re kinda hesitating to watch it, waiting for time for the discussions that will ensue in our home, and fully expecting that it will change some of our current practices.

    We have ten children, (four of which are ravenous teenagers) and although our budget seems stretched tight now (like Lanise above, only Goodwill is too pricy around here…but you know what I mean…frugal), I’m wondering if more information (like the DVD) will convict us to make even more changes in our budgetary priorities. More likely, it will force us into the gardening that with homeschooling and the sheer amount of time it takes to feed a family this size all-from-scratch whole foods has not been possible time-wise before.

    We have prioritized our ‘animal foods’, having raw milk and no chemicals or antibiotics in our meats and dairy products, but haven’t bought much organic produce at all. We have mostly stuck with the ‘just skip it’ rule. If I know it is awful (i.e. Dirty Dozen) we just go without that food. More boring menu, sure, but safer. That has been a major ‘light bulb’ realization for me.

    I am feeling really convicted about the comments from your reader with the Respectful Disagreement…especially how she said she shops “using the EWG’s clean fifteen and dirty dozen list and I stick(s) to it” and how she is able to “using these two lists…always have a variety of organic and non-organic but safer choices for (her) family”.

    You know what? I could do that. I could at least re-look at the lists and try. Whatever isn’t affordable, we could just skip.

    A full smorgasbord of all fruits and vegetables isn’t a right. (A nutritional powerhouse, but not a right.) Then we could prioritize the other things as far as growing them ourselves. I think my going back and re-reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” would be a help to my optimism level and my creativity.

    On another note, I recently was reminded of how important it is to *always* be looking out for a better way to buy food. I just learned that I can buy organic chickens from Costco for almost a dollar cheaper per pound than I was buying no-antibiotics-no-hormones-but-still-using-GMO-feed chickens from my food co-op. Why hadn’t I checked this out before? Sigh. Eternal vigilance is the cost of food liberty, eh?

    1. Julie,
      I don’t know what you mean by “chemicals” in your milk & meat products, but no milk or meat has antibiotic residue in it & all products (milk, meat, eggs, veggies) have the natural hormones produced by the plant or animal in them.

  33. It really bugs me when people always say that if you can’t afford to eat organic (fill in the blank) than you need to cut back on your other expenses ie. clothes, cable TV, vacations, etc. We buy our clothes at Goodwill, we don’t have cable, we have a 3 bedroom house with 7 people and both drive cars that are 10+ years old. Where exactly are we supposed to cut back so we can afford organic strawberries? Sometimes we eat organic strawberries, most the time we don’t. And we never eat local strawberries (gasp) because we live in the Phoenix area. There are no local strawberries for sale within a few hundred miles. But, I’m going to continue to feed my child strawberries because it’s far better than snickers and Cheetos. This comment is not directed at anyone in particular, I’m just tired of the all or nothing attitudes around the “whole food web”. I prioritize our “clean” food (organic, grass-fed, pastured, whatever is appropriate) like this: animal products, fruits and veggies, grains and beans. We do really well with the animal products and that’s the best we can do right now. Katie, you do a good job when talking about balance in all things. I’m glad that you continue to encourage those who cannot have a perfect diet. You’ve probably kept a lot of people from giving up and going back to a SAD.

    1. I feel that way a lot too Lanise! The budget only goes so far and my family has already cut back on several things too. Unfortunately despite my best efforts, the food budget increases as the kids get older, simply due to volume. We do the best we can with quality and I do my best to avoid chemical laden processed junk. I completely agree that Katie is a wonderful resource and is very supportive and encouraging! Other health and wellness and whole foods blogs… not so much support there and I find some to be very judgmental in their “all or nothingness”:( Be proud that you are doing the best you can with what you have… and know that you are not alone!

  34. We buy whatever is least expensive… the budget is kinda tight. Organic strawberries at the store are twice the cost as non-organic and shipped from far far away. Plus I’d rather my kids dive into some fresh berries for a snack over something processed and sugar laden. It doesn’t really matter if the fruit is organic or not, it is still a far healthier choice than many other things.

  35. Keep in mind that eeven most organic produce has been sprayed with pesticides, only those have been created with organic materials rather than petrolium based ones. The two versions, organic and non are chemically indistinguishable once made. So dont think your organic food is pesticide free. And the FDA also regulates the interstate transfer of food and any food shipped from out of state must be dipped in a chlorine wash or irradiated to prevent pests and plant disease from spreading. Even organic.

    We choose local always, and organic is so far out of our price range we eat conventional, whole foods.

    1. Rebecca–So do you feel like the dirty dozen list is misleading? It implies that the organic version of the dirty dozen are a safer choice.

      I have the same concern. I live near orchards and see the guys in the ORGANIC apple orchard wearing hazmat type suits and masks spraying organic pesticides on the apple. It certainly makes one wonder how much different the end result is.

      Wondering if you could point me to any resources that document the validity of what your saying about similar pesticide residue on organic vs conventional.

      1. My information comes from friends in the Ag business field who were also Org Chem majors in college. They did studies on pesticides and I read a lot of their and their teachers research.

        I also have a friend who used to work for a seed company, but had to quit when her OBGYN voiced concerns over her working in such close proximity to organic pesticides when they were trying to concieve.

        I don’t know that one is significantly better than the other, We choose to buy local, low spray produce as much as we can in the summer, other than what we grow ourselves, which is a lot.

        What bugs me the most is when those who swear by organics (not that that is bad or good) insist they buy that way to avoid all the chemicals on traditional produce. It just isn’t true. Some organic produce grown on factory farms and shipped cross country or countries is sprayed much more than local items.

        1. Amen Rebecca.

          Here’s a 2011 NPR article on all the chemicals used in organic production:

          an interesting quote at the ends of the article: “I’d rather buy food from someone who used Roundup once than someone who uses organic pesticides all the time.”

  36. For us I always talk to the farmers – around here there are lots of farms that grow sustainably but just cannot afford to pay for organic certification. I am in CA so berries are easy to get 🙂 but I’d never buy non-organic because here conventionally grown means methyl bromide gas being pumped into the ground. It might mean something different, and less scary toxic where you are, so it’s worth asking and weighing the answers. So much of this is personal – what we view as too harsh for the environment/animals, what our budget can handle, what the cost is just getting the food in terms of travel etc., that we just have to weigh it out and make the wisest decision we can for our own personal circumstances.

    1. Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs

      I live in CA too and agree with the “ask the farmers” rule. Every time I visit a new stand I’m coming across more and more vendors who are selling produce that’s grown sustainably, but the owners simply cannot afford the certification. My husband works with a lady who has orange, lemon and grapefruit trees in her yard. She regularly brings them in to share and we have no issues eating them. I view the non-certified practices in the same light and I’m happy to support them.

      Driscoll’s and Dole are within 15 miles of where I live. Strawberries are abundant here, nearly year round and they’re cheap! $1/lb is the norm during peak season, but this is the first year we aren’t buying them. I’ve seen what the workers wear when they’re tending the crops, in order to protect themselves from the chemicals being used. And the fact that acres of land are going from fledgling plants to full-on producing in a few short weeks is unsettling.

    2. That’s all very interesting. We don’t live in a high-intensity farming area of any kind, so I honestly don’t have any idea what pesticide use really looks like. though we did just take a road trip and I saw my first pro-Monsanto billboard…It definitely got me thinking.

      First, I don’t want my treat to mean destroying your backyard. That’s just wrong, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt me any to wait another month for local strawberry season and a trip to our local (organic) U-pick, even if it is kinda pricy.

      Second, and slightly off-topic…we drove through ranch country on our trip. I saw lots of grazing cattle, but no feedlots. I saw holding pens for cattle on their way to the trains up to Chicago, but ALL the cattle I saw were on pasture. Which got me wondering – can cattle be fed in CAFO operations? Does it even work for them? And if most cattle spend at least a large portion of their life on pasture, if you can’t afford organic meat, is it better to opt for beef than chicken? Also, why are we still shipping our cows from Texas to Chicago for slaughter? Are we? Because that makes no sense anymore.

      1. Google “cattle CAFO” and you will find plenty of info on how it is done. Here’s a helpful article on CAFOs in general, with a photo of a cattle CAFO.

        What I recall reading from various sources is that typical cattle spend PART of their life on pasture but another significant part crowded together knee-deep in sh*t eating whatever carbs are cheapest.

      2. Cory,
        I’m glad you paid attention when you drove thru ranch country, because what you saw is the norm. Cows in commercial beef production are raised on grass until they are sent to be finished a few months before they are slaughtered. Then they go to a feed lot. Here’s an interview Katie did with Debbie Lyons-Blythe, mom of 6 & Kansas Cattle Rancher,

  37. Honestly…We buy almost all organic, but when it comes to the super-pricey things like berries, I’ll periodically buy the big 2-lb-for-$3 conventional and just convince myself that since most our other food is organic, we can handle the junk on this treat.

    Otherwise, I stake out the sales (for the one week berries are priced reasonably), buy as many as I can afford, and freeze them.

  38. If something is on the dirty dozen list then I would buy it organic or probably do without. Organic to me doesn’t have to mean a label either – I couldn’t care less if someone local isn’t certified or not as long as they use the practices. With something at the top list, it’s just not worth it to me and I would think about it constantly. Berries were RARE when I was growing up, and my family didn’t even care about organic! They were just a treat. So I would see it as something to leave out. (And I definitely go for the clean list most of the time.)
    Thankfully we shouldn’t have to worry about strawberries this year as the owners of our house had an entire strawberry bed planted that is coming up beautifully! I don’t know what was done to it in past years, but at least nothing has been sprayed on it for the past year and we are super excited to have fresh berries from our own yard, as renters even! We are planting a garden too, but I wouldn’t have thought to put in a strawberry patch. It isn’t even the sunniest spot but they are reaching up and looking great. The berries are already bigger than those pictured and they’re still green!
    I do hope to go blueberry picking and stock the freezer though.

    1. Another note though…we often wonder what we’d do if we had less flexibility now. We by no means buy all organic (I said I love the clean list!) but I’m a stickler about most things and it would bother me to buy them conventional on a regular basis. We hope to have a large family and while that may be far in the future, I just can’t know what our budget will be like. My theory is that organic or properly raised foods will be more widely available by that time, but we’ll see 🙂 I will just have to be open to adjustment as our life changes, and pray that I can let go of what I can’t control when it comes to our food, and be thankful for what we can do now. If my husband is in a different job or we are living overseas I may not have my easy, pretty little routine, in so much more than just groceries!

  39. The majority of what we eat us organic, not local, but we always incorporate more local into our diets during the summer. And then I try to ask questions about methods and sustainability. Bit that’s not really why I wanted to comment. Really, I just wanted to say Amen to what sweet Rebecca said in the comments above me. Amen, sister!

  40. Our current strawberries? Home-grown, they are fairly easy to grow and are pretty. I get about 1 strawberry every day-every other day per plant right now. They would probably make an adorable border plant around walkways and once fall hits… Just mow over them and throw some straw on top of them, they come back the next year bigger

  41. Well, I agree that organic is *sometimes* the best option. The thing is, though, now that organic is becoming ‘big business’, the laws are a little mushy. There is some chemical use allowed, in some cases, and I typically choose to support my local economy. I care about the people in my neighborhood. For me, I ask if they spray pre-fruit or post-fruit or both. Yes, there are still pesticides, but if they are only spraying before any fruit is on the plants, at least the berries aren’t directly sprayed. I would rather pick my own, enjoy the experience, and believe that eating whole foods is good. But from the grocery store I always choose organic for strawberries. I see both sides, though, and it is a constant struggle for me, especially with berries and apples. I want to support a local organic farmer, but the u-pick is significantly more expensive than the store…it is just so difficult. Oh man! Good conversation, Katie. I look forward to reading everyone else’s perspective.

  42. I do what I can… mix n’ match. The stuff we eat regularly, esp. produce, I try to buy organic. I have planted a small garden this year, but w/ a 2 1/2 year old and a 2 month old, I don’t have the time I wish I had for a larger one.

    As far as strawberries, I would pick ’em locally, organic or not. I know a small “one horse” farm about 15 min away that doesn’t overdo the fertilizer pesticides ( at least I assume…. there are lots of weeds and the produce is relatively small compared to their store counterparts.. but still yummy!).

    I have to do what I can afford. We are also called to be good stewards of our finances, as well as what we put into our bodies. And, most important of all to us is raising our kids for the glory of God. And when going crazy in the kitchen and garden all day, and stressing over everything we put in our mouths gets in the way of spending time with and disciplining our children, then I know my priorities are out of order. I would rather my children grow up to be kind, loving and obedient to their heavenly Father then live to be 110 and never consume a pesticide 😉 Hopefully we can achieve all of the above–balanced finances, healthy food and well-trained children, but it’s a balancing act for sure…

    1. Just to add ( I know I rambled on way too long already 🙂 ) but I would rather buy my produce from a local farmer a few min away or a neighbor around the corner than I would from some big organic farm located who-knows-where. I like to support the local farms–they have enough trouble keeping in business already. And many of them, while not certified organic, are following much more “natural” practices than the conventional big farms nationwide.

      Case in point: our raw milk supplier. We travel 45 minutes every other week up into the back woods of Maine to a dairy farm located on the side of a mountain (really beautiful place, btw). He is a regular struggling farmer, trying to make ends meet, selling his milk every other day to the milk truck. He charges us only $3 a gallon for beautiful creamy raw milk. It isn’t organic–he’s an older, stooped farmer and I wonder if he even really knows what organic means! But he takes good care of his cows. They are on grass and eat quality hay and grain. The barn is spotless and and the animals are happy and healthy.

      So would I rather buy organic milk from my grocery store at exorbitant prices per gallon? Or milk from this farm at 3 bucks a gallon? It’s a no-brainer for me!!

    2. “And when going crazy in the kitchen and garden all day, and stressing over everything we put in our mouths gets in the way of spending time with and disciplining our children, then I know my priorities are out of order. I would rather my children grow up to be kind, loving and obedient to their heavenly Father then live to be 110 and never consume a pesticide.”

      Thank you for this comment – I really needed to read this!

  43. I just picked about 23 pounds from a local farm for $1.99/pound. I froze half, made half into jam, and we enjoyed the rest. 🙂 I washed them really well and will be thankful to have them in the winter, even though they aren’t organic. We just can’t afford that and I’m happy to support this local, family farm.

  44. Sherra Kinder

    Buy local when possible. But can’t get organic here regularly. Hard to get anything organi ’round here. Wish we could though! It is on our list to add to our garden next year though 🙂

  45. I COMPLETELY understand your dilemma! I would like to buy all organic and even all the dirty dozen, but we are on a budget and I can’t afford them all. Since my family eats a lot of apples, I do buy them organic. I am so excited to go strawberry picking too in the next few days and will go to a farm that I’m sure sprays with chemicals. Like you said the taste is amazing!!! We do need to stop beating ourselves up about not eating perfectly organic. At least we are feeding ourselves and our families vegetables and fruits. That in itself is so much better than how many others eat!

  46. I know how you feel. So hard to know what to do. This year I’ve decided to buy them from the farmer’s market, but I’m purposely not even asking any questions. They are what they are, and like you, I need them for smoothies and yogurt through the winter. It will be better for my stress level if I don’t even know.

  47. Hi, thanks for the article. I’ve gone through a lot of the same angst about spending extra (MUCH extra) to buy organic. I do try to stick to the “Dirty Dozen” guidelines as much as possible, but organic produce is so expensive in my state that it’s not always possible. That being said, I have an organic home garden and will buy some produce that I can’t grow myself from the local farmer’s markets. I was going to purchase a CSA, but the only organic farm in the area only sells full (family) shares; we are a family of two, and I don’t have extra freezer space to put up the excess amount. I just had a friend build me another raised bed and I’ll be putting strawberries in that.

    1. I don’t personally eat strawberries (just don’t like them) but my family eats a lot of them. I think your idea for putting strawberries in the new raised bed is the best plan of all. In my area the nurseries are clearing out their strawberry plants at deep discounts right now. I got day neutral plants – they bear fruit all summer long and into the fall – several years ago for less than the price of a flat of berries and have given away enough of the new plants for three other people to start beds. I net them against birds, spread crushed eggshells against slugs, mulch them to keep them from drying out in the heat, and that’s pretty much it. When the plants get crowded, just compost some of the older plants. Local, organic, fresh AND cheap. My patch is about 3’x8′ and supplies three strawberry fiends all summer with lots for the freezer. I would double the size for larger families with high winter consumption rates.

      1. Thanks for the info, especially about how to protect the berries. I just found out about the ever-bearing (I didn’t know they were called “day neutral”) last year, and that is what I’m going to plant. 🙂

        1. Everbearing are different than day neutral. Everbearing produce a fairly heavy first crop and then a lighter ongoing supply of berries for the rest of the summer. Day neutral are starting to ripen here right now, along with the regular type, but will not have a huge first crop. They will just continue to bloom and produce berries at a steady rate from now until they freeze. In mild years they have continued to bloom and ripen into fall, and I have had half ripe berries freeze on the plants in November.

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