May 24th, 2012

Organic vs. Conventional Strawberries

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Groovy Green Livin Organic strawberries

Welcome to Green Questions, Groovy Answers-your opportunity to get your pressing green questions answered each week. This week’s question comes from a Groovy Green Livin reader, Suzanne in Memphis, TN. Thanks Suzanne!

Does eating organic strawberries really matter?

There is nothing like the summer months when supermarkets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Local farmers markets are just beginning to open up their tables, offering an abundance of fresh produce. When we shop for produce we have many choices -one of the most difficult being whether to invest our hard earned dollars on fruits and veggies that have been organically grown. While buying organic is always the better option, it is impossible and cost prohibitive to buy everything organic.

Strawberries are a favorite fruit in our house. My youngest son and I devour them by the handful. We use them for smoothies, in our lunch boxes and as a healthy after school snack. Buying organic strawberries can be very expensive. Last time I went to the market it was close to $5.00 for a small container, while the conventional counterpart was much less costly.

Is it worth it to invest in organic strawberries? The short answer is YES.

Research suggests that organic strawberries are the way to go

Researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group created the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides to help us determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. We can lower our pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables (The Dirty Dozen) and eating the least contaminated produce (Clean 15).

Strawberries are number 3 on the list of most contaminated fruits

In in a study led by Washington State University, the results found: organic strawberries are healthier, tastier, and better for the soil than conventional strawberries. Conventional strawberries are contaminated by all sorts of pesticides and toxic chemicals and have consistently been high on the most contaminated list. If you have the option, organic strawberries are the way to go.

Where can I buy organic strawberries?

Check your local farmer’s markets and supermarkets for local organic strawberry options. There are times when organic strawberries will make a guest appearance in my CSA box. If you would like to find a local CSA in your neck of the woods take a look at LocalHarvest.

How can I pick my own strawberries?

There’s nothing like picking your own fresh strawberries from a local farm or better yet from your own garden. When you pick your own you know exactly where the strawberries came from and if picking at a local farm you have the unique opportunity to ask the farmer questions if you’re concerned about which pesticides were used (if any) to help them grow.

If you want to find a local farm stand near you to pick your own strawberries enables you to find the closest pick-your-own farms throughout the world. The site is simple to use. Locate your state or country and a handy list pops up. Look for the farms highlighted in green -those are the organic farms. The site also has a link to canning and preserving directions as well as picking tips.

Do you buy organic strawberries? Do you pick your own?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Ewan Traveler/Flickr]


Linked up with The Greenbacks Gal Green Resource, Natural Mothers Network.



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16 Responses to “Organic vs. Conventional Strawberries”

  1. Hi Lori,
    We only buy organic strawberries. And we prefer to buy them when they are in season at our local organic farm. But sometimes I break down and buy some that came from California. I must say that I wish I knew all this when my children were little. My oldest son ate them like candy when he was a child. Now he makes a point of buying organic too.

  2. I buy organic strawberries MOST of the time. I actually avoid buying them much in the winter months because they are so expensive, though. However, in the summertime I have opted to buy local(non-organic) strawberries over organic ones that have traveled thousands of miles to get to our local market.

  3. Hi Cathy- strawberries can be so incredibly expensive. I hear what you are saying about the distance some strawberries travel to get to our table. It doesn’t make sense!

  4. Hi Judith, It seems we all learn as we go. I can look back at so many things and think “if only I knew then what I know now”. I bet it’s nice to see that your oldest son understands the importance of organic strawberries.

  5. Great topic Lori! Every spring I pick my own strawberries, it’s so much fun. One year I tried an organic farm, and it was so expensive that I haven’t gone back! I’d like to think that if I choose organic for the other Dirty Dozen, it’s okay if I choose conventional for strawberries, especially since their season is so short.

  6. Thanks Andrea! Sounds like you love strawberries as much as I do. I love to pick them myself. I agree, organic strawberries can be very expensive. I wonder if there’s a co-op or farmer’s market that would offer them at a less expensive price? I also agree that everything needs to be in moderation-if conventional strawberries fit into your budget then by all means eat them!! And enjoy!

  7. Oh i ma such a sucker for a good strawberry as my last 5 posts on strawberries will attest to. You are so right, they are one of the worst offenders in the EWG Dirty Dozen! Your image made my mouth water-beautiful!
    Thanks for linking this up at Seasonal Celebration Sunday! Rebecca@Natural Mothers Network x

  8. Thanks Rebecca! I can’t get enough strawberries. I constantly fight with my youngest about who will get to eat the strawberries. Thanks for your awesome linky!

  9. […] from another state or another country.  The grocery store knows no seasons-you can buy organic strawberries in December although they were grown in June and corn throughout the year. Don’t get me […]

  10. […] from another state or another country.  The grocery store knows no seasons-you can buy organic strawberries in December although they were grown in June and corn throughout the year. Don’t get me […]

  11. […] from another state or another country.  The grocery store knows no seasons-you can buy organic strawberries in December although they were grown in June and corn throughout the year. Don’t get me […]

  12. Great topic! I agree that I would buy more organic strawberries if they weren’t so darn expensive. I enjoyed your link about the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables. I think they get overlooked very easily because fruits and vegetables are considered healthy so many people don’t think about pesticides and how they can affect us. In their mind they just might be thinking about fresh fruit, organic or not, over canned fruit. I think these small, but important posts help people realize how they need to think a little further then a fresh vegetable or a canned item. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I know Alexi-they are expensive. I try to buy organic strawberries over other fruits when possible.

  14. […] longer the food that our mother’s forced us to eat.  Brussels sprouts have graduated onto my superfood list and with good reason. They’re not only full of flavor, but they also have a ton of health […]

  15. I try to buy organic strawberries as often as I can, but I don’t always :( I find that organic frozen strawberries aren’t as expensive and work well in smoothies!
    Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) recently posted..What To Do With My Old Cell Phone?My Profile

  16. I buy organic frozen strawberries all the time Kristina. They are the best in smoothies. Sometimes it’s hard to find fresh organic strawberries. Definitely depends upon the season.

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I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

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