What You Don’t Know About Strawberries Could Kill You

Update: The California Strawberry Commission tells us it has no position on the approval of methyl iodide, but the manufacturer is lobbying for approval.

Ah, fresh strawberries, that sweet, delightful summertime treat appreciated by taste buds everywhere.

But those innocent-looking strawberries are also one of the most poisonous foods in the produce section — if you aren’t buying  organic, that is. According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, strawberries rank as one of the dirtiest fruits and vegetables, readily absorbing the noxious chemicals that are used to grow them conventionally and exposing the consumer — and far more so the field workers who grow them — to up to 54 known carcinogens, among other toxins. And things are about to get worse.

One of these noxious chemical, the widely-used methyl bromide, is being phased out thanks to international efforts to ban it due to its ozone-depleting effects. This would be good, except the fumigant that growers chemical manufacturer Arysta would like to replace it with is methyl iodide. Methyl iodide is used by scientists for the delightful purpose of intentionally inducing cancer in lab animals. Cancer is not just this chemical’s side effect; it’s its job.

Astonishingly, the EPA under Bush approved this chemical for use, although California, where the majority of U.S. strawberries are grown, held off on approving the stuff. California is the second largest user of methyl bromide in the country, so now that it’s getting the boot, the pressure is on for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to approve methyl iodide, known commercially as “Midas,” in its place.

Of course we can avoid this and other dangerous pesticides by buying only organic strawberries, but that doesn’t help the migrant laborers who will be working in clouds of the stuff or the shoppers who simply don’t know the danger. Encourage people you know to only buy organic strawberries, along with the other “Dirty Dozen” vegetables the EWG points to as the most dangerous, call Governor Schwarzenegger, and sign the petition to keep the Midas touch out of California. If we succeed, the new EPA officials are likely to take notice and hopefully do the same for the rest of the country.

Photo credit: ^riza^ via Flickr

source: http://food.change.org/blog/view/what_you_dont_know_about_strawberries_could_kill_you

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