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Keep Your Hands Off Our Strawberries

strawberry cupcakes gluten-free dairy-free recipe
Photo by Annabelle Breakey from Gluten-Free Cupcakes

Everybody loves strawberries.  At least everybody I know.  They’re an absolute favorite food in our house.  Luckily, we are fortunate enough to have access to, and can afford organic strawberries.  For those who are not so lucky, sadly, the dangers are many.  First and foremost, a toxic pesticide called methyl iodide is used to grow our favorite berry, and according to John Froines of UCLA, it is “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.”

Methyl idiodide is a gas pesticide that is injected into soil, it is not on our actual berries.  The problem?  Methyl iodide is:

  • • highly toxic and reactive
  • • a well known carcinogen
  • • linked to late term miscarriages
  • • a source of ground water and soil contamination
  • • able to contaminate neighboring properties via pesticide drift
  • • especially toxic to workers in the fields

Do people really need to be poisoned so that I can have strawberries for dessert?  I say no.  Thinking of a corporation touching nature’s bounty is most disturbing indeed, which is why I am begging Arysta (the largest pesticide company in the world) to: keep your hands off our strawberries!  Since this company is in the business of selling poison, I highly doubt they will listen to my plea.

Thankfully, one of my favorite organizations, PAN, has come to the rescue, filing a petition with the EPA to ban the use of this scary pesticide nationwide.  EPA is considering public comment until April 30th.  What can you do?  Just head over to PAN’s website and sign the online petition.  This chemical is too toxic to be used safely as a soil fumigant pesticide, and has no place in our country’s agriculture.

By the way, conventionally grown strawberries come with a mouth watering dose of 53 additional pesticides.  However, you can take heart in the fact that there are many amazing companies such as Swanton Farms that are doing it right –growing beautiful strawberries without ANY chemical assistance from corporate America.

We grow strawberries in our sunny front yard.  The stunning photo above (taken by the incredible Annabelle Breakey) is from my forthcoming book Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour (coming out in less than 3 weeks –um, not sure what they’re thinking, but it’s on sale for pre-order for only $9.03 right now).  Most importantly though, remember to protect nature’s bounty by protecting our strawberries!


posted on April 9, 2011

  1. Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing @ nourishingflourishing.com

    I cannot wait for the cookbook; this looks beautiful! Also, I just have to say that I am so grateful you share information like this, Elana. It’s vital to get the facts out there — most people just take it for granted because they actually trust these companies and those who oversee them… I wish that we lived in a time when that was realistic, but unfortunately things have changed immensely in the past 100 years of agriculture and the food business.

    Thank you again for your work in this effort!

  2. This is a huge, huge issue in California right now. My husband’s organization, Pesticide Watch, (who works a lot with PAN), is working on this in California (http://www.pesticidewatch.org/).

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Thanks for this! I wonder if they grow strawberries and other fruit the same way in Europe? Do you know? I always feel like the fruit here is more natural…but I don’t know. Aww man, Elana, I wish I was your photographer for your recipes!! What BEAUTIFUL food! I love photographing food. :) Is this cupcake and almond flour our coconut flour one?

  4. Karen

    I’ve heard there are petitions in CA about this. Jerry Brown’s supposed to be a big proponent of the environment so I hope he is able to pass something that bans this horrible chemical, especially as CA is one of the biggest producers of strawberries.

    Thank you for posting about the petition Elana. I plan to sign it as soon as I’m done here. It’s beyond me how anyone can think it’s okay to expose people to this and claim to have a conscience. How do these people sleep at night?

  5. Karen

    Sorry to double post but I forgot to ask – who in the Denver/Boulder area sells Swanton Farms strawberries, so I can keep an eye out for them?

  6. Claudia Williams @ blogderecetas.wordpress.com

    Thanks for letting us know. I really hate pesticides (and GMO) in my produce!

  7. Thank you for sharing this Elana. I am starting strawberry and blueberry bushes in my yard to have access to organically and locally grown low-sugar fruits. So far they’re coming along nicely!

  8. Shirley @ gfe @ glutenfreeeasily.com

    Simply stunning, Elana! I got your cookbook yesterday and I’ve already made a batch of cupcakes today. I waited an hour for them to cool (following directions for once) and they are fabulous! Will share my review soon. :-) What an absolute bargain your new cookbook is on Amazon right now! Those will be some lucky folks who preorder it at this price. ;-)

    Thanks for the info on the pesticides. It’s really so incredibly disturbing. Every time I use our bees’ honey (and I used it in your cupcake recipe vs agave), I think of how a very large part of their decline is due to pesticides. The effects are just devastating on so many levels. Yesterday at my grocery store, organic bananas were the same price as other bananas, so I hope folks who don’t buy organic due to the price will keep doing a price check and even if the price is more, I hope they’ll consider if the savings are worth it. Sometimes the difference in price is small, but the benefits are, of course, huge.

    Off to sign the petition. Thanks, Elana! xo,
    Shirley

  9. Cheryl @ gfgoodness.com

    Thanks, Elana. And just a shout out for frozen organic strawberries for days when organic aren’t available or too much $

  10. glutenfreeforgood @ glutenfreeforgood.com/blog

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s so sad that much of our food system is in the hands of people who don’t care about our health or the health of the planet. It drives me nuts. That’s why it’s so important to support our local organic farmers.

    Oh, and yes, that photo is gorgeous! Just made your carrot cupcakes and they’re divine. I also pre-ordered your new cookbook (SO reasonably priced) and am looking forward to making some treats.

    Great post!

  11. MaryBeth

    Thank you. It is time that we take care of the planet and ourselves!

    I just preordered your new book. Can’t wait!

  12. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com @ kirantarun.com/food

    What a beautiful cupcake. Thank you for enriching our knowledge on pesticides Elana. It’s scary what some people put out there in order to make huge profit.

  13. Evie Britt

    Thank you for your post. I noticed some strawberries in Walmart last week from Mexcio. Are they using this pesticide as well? Going over to sign the petition now. Thanks again.

  14. Alisa Fleming @ alisacooks.com

    So awesome that you are bringing attention to this Elana! We switched to organic strawberries a few years ago, and they are tastier too! If only we had known even earlier.

    Gorgeous cupcake!!

  15. Elana,

    Beautiful post … sweet and meaty. Hats off to courageous ones like you who bring it all to the forefront.

    We recently had our son screened for toxic build-up. Turns out he’s got a good load of lead, mercury, PCBs and PESTICIDES (and we eat clean … I likely dumped my toxic load into him in utero)! Part of his issue is that his methylation process inhibits detoxification so that needs to be fixed … but the fact that he has pesticides in his little body (and other evil evil things) is what I find grievous.

    On a brighter note, the photography in your book is going to be stunning … I can tell by this little preview and the preview on Amazon.

    Ordered 5 copies! They are such a good deal right now on Amazon … only $9.03, woohoo!

    xo
    Lexie
    Lexie’s Kitchen

  16. Maryanne Andricola Fiadino @ thegluten-freeitalian.blogspot.com

    That cupcake is gorgeous! Thank you for making it so easy for us to support the goodness of strawberries as they are a household favorite here as well but we pay a fortune at whole foods & it’s been worth every dime. Can’t wait until the release of your book & thank you again!
    Maryanne
    The Gluten-Free Italian

  17. Thanks for being so informative. The cupcake photos is so beautiful!

  18. I’d like to encourage everyone to post a comment directly on the Federal Register. The EPA is REQUIRED to review each and every comment received from the public, and more thoughtful comments in favor or removing methyl iodide registration would only help.

    It’s pretty quick. Write up your text or find text (organizations like PAN typically have that available; I also posted my comment on my blog), go the federal register, search for your issue, and post. It’s a great way to voice your opinion and knowledge during the rulemaking process!

    Link for MeI:
    http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0541-0010

  19. Kelley Hart

    This is so upsetting! We hardly ever buy strawberries anymore because we refuse to buy conventional and the organic ones are ridiculously expensive (same with blueberries). Really, really angers me! How all of this use of pesticides and other poisons was ever approved in the first place is beyond me. Just another example of greed I guess. Now it’s time for us to get greedy, let’s take back our food and our health! Hope something gets done about this strawberry issue. Thanks for providing the petition link. Going there now!

  20. Lisa Daniel

    Yummmmmm! I went directly to PAN, signed the petition, sent a link by email to my entire address book and then came back to ogle the cupcake again!! =D Now, I think I will go and visit Amazon for a certain gluten free author’s upcoming cookbook!!!

  21. Kayla @ Fitter Than Choc @ fitterthanchoc.blogspot.com

    Oh no. This is bad news. I love strawberries. I have always known that strawberries are loaded with pesticides, but I didn’t know that they are that bad. It seems like I’d have to start buying organic strawberries soon. Your new book sounds really exciting!

  22. Wow, what a wake-up call. Thank you so much for sharing. I sometimes find it hard to balance what I know and believe about farming practices with the “now, now, now” feeling that I get in the grocery store. I KNOW that I want to buy organic for a thousand different reasons – for my own health, for the soil, for social justice. But sometimes I see those conventional strawberries in the grocery store – big, red, juicy – and I just WANT them. This information will help me say no to my inner 2-year-old.

  23. Karen

    Hey Elana!

    You know I love your first book and I’m anticipating the second will be just as wonderful. Can’t wait!

    Meanwhile…thank you for the link to the petition. We need to get this out to more people. I posted the link on my FB page… We so need to protect our food supplies!

  24. Tracy Deakyne

    Thanks so much for bringing attention to this, Elana! I’ve just planted 25 more plants and I’m hopeful we will get a decent harvest this year so as not to buy many except through our organic food co-op. Your cookbook looks wonderful!Beautiful pictures! Tracy

  25. Thank you so much for sharing that! I do remember reading a little about it last December and had made a mental note to buy organic but haven’t been. I will not start buying organic and just not having them as often as I’d like! I shared the petition link on FB too after I signed it myself! That cupcake looks mouth-watering!

  26. Ellen @Gluten Free Diva @ glutenfreediva.com

    Where to start? I think I’ll begin on a positive note. I cannot wait to begin baking from your new cupcake cookbook. If the picture above (fabulous picture) is any indication, the book will be a sure-fire winner. No surprise – your first cookbook is a winner! You have really turned my gluten free baking into a whole other endeavor. I’m going through so much Honeyville Almond Flour that I should buy stock in the company:).

    Second, the news about the toxic chemicals in conventional strawberries is terribly distressing. I no longer eat conventional strawberries – haven’t for years – but when I think of all the years I DID eat them, it just pains me. And pisses me off, too. I just saw the movie “Michael Clayton” – about a lawyer who fights a big company who tried to cover up how they poisoned 450+ family farms with their chemicals. It’s probably happening a lot more than we even know. As one of your readers suggested, let’s write to our elected officials – let’s not just sit back and let it happen.

    Thank you for your wake up call. And thank you for sharing the picture. I’m going to Amazon right this minute and ordering a whole slew of them for gifts. The price is unbelievable!!!

  27. Thank you for sharing this with us! I just signed the petition! It’s really scary all we don’t know about how our food is grown…

  28. Linda

    If you wash the strawberries with a good veggie wash(that is supposed to remove residue and pesticides), would the non organic strawberry then be safe to consume?

    • Here is my two cents on that. For one, I’m sure the wash will take care of SOME of the pesticides, but what if those chemicals grow into the actual strawberry? How much pesticide is really OKAY in your body? For me, the closer to ZERO, the better! Two, those pesticides make it so the strawberry plant doesn’t have to “fend for itself”, so to speak, so it’s less likely to make antioxidants and other good-for-you stuff. Three, continuing to buy conventional produce just gives the conventional growers more money. Vote with your dollar – give your money to those people who work hard to provide safe, organic, pesticide-free foods for us. Take the money away from those conventional growers, and they’ll start to get the message.

      Please keep in mind that I’m just a consumer, so these are just my opinions. Personally, I think you’re safer to get the organic strawberries (or try to grow your own, even!)

  29. Kristin

    Thank you! I refuse to buy any berries unless they are organic for this very reason! My children get so upset with me sometimes because they love berries. Organic berries are getting harder and harder to find….such a sad situation! Plus they are very expensive! I have a small strawberry patch. My children look forward to picking and eatting our own strawberries every summer! Your strawberry cupcake looks
    absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

  30. Well said. My guess is those reading this blog are more aware of this issue so…. I am not only going to sign the PAN petition for the EPA….I am going to share your post and the PAN petition with as many people as I can that may not come in contact with this information on their own.
    Thanks Elana !

  31. Christina MacLaren @ christinamaclaren.blogspot.com

    Thank you so much for sharing this link. I just signed the petition and posted a link to it on Facebook. My kids are always begging for strawberries, and it makes me so sad to have to tell them no most of the time when organic berries are not available.

    Your cupcake looks a-maz-ing, and I will definitely be checking out your new book!

  32. Clemclemdeparis

    To answer Claire, pesticides are sadely the same in Europe. Strawberry mostly comes from Spain ( big, fat, red & jucy, full of pesticids), French “garriguette” comes later in spring( now: 9€ for 250grammes!) sooo expensive! Organic strawberry are not yet in season… We have to wait… Elana, you just convice me to plant my own berries garden in my Provence house! Thanks for your amazing work & your community

  33. Ashley @TasteforHealthy @ tasteforhealthy.blogspot.com

    I love healthy cupcakes!! I am so excited for your book to come out… I can’t stop talking about it to my friends! :)

  34. Nicole@GFonaShoestring @ glutenfreeonashoestring.com

    That’s a really beautiful cupcake! I can’t stop staring at it.

    Warm regards,
    Nicole

  35. I knew strawberries were sprayed with bad things, but I never knew THIS! Also, I think that is the prettiest and yummiest looking photo that you have ever shared with us on your blog! Kudos :)

  36. Rachel Hall

    Thank you Elana for bringing this to so many people’s attention! This is a highly important issue that people need to be aware of.

  37. Michelle

    Thank you – from here on out, I’ll buy organic strawberries, and eat the ones that grow in my back yard.

    They are a great choice for ground cover near our walkway, as they only get to 8″-10″ tall and require no maintenance.

    Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also easy to grow. The plants are free or cheap to acquire – so much more cost effective than buying the berries! As a bonus, we see so many more beautiful, brightly colored birds in our yard, as they love the berries too. I’ve also had the pleasure of looking out into my back yard and seeing the woodchuck from my neighbor’s yard sitting on my garage roof, eating raspberries off the top of our raspberry bush (and we live in a city).

  38. This is a fabulous post about the dangers of conventional strawberries. I didn’t know about the pesticides being injected into the soil as well! Thanks so much for sharing this info and bringing more awareness to this important topic. :)

  39. Elana, this is a GORGEOUS photo. And I agree with you on the strawberry front – no pesticides! I’m definitely signing the petition and have already made the decision not to buy non-organic. Just planted some in our own garden too. Also just ordered your book – can’t wait to make these!

  40. Nancy @SensitivePantry @ thesensitivepantry.com

    Elana – thanks for sharing this information. I’ve been reading up on green agriculture and foods that are and aren’t healthy for our families. Lots to learn…this is scary stuff. I immediately signed the petition.

  41. The Newlywed Chefs @ thenewlywedchefs.com

    Elana, you are so talented. What a great picture!

  42. Oh goodness! That’s just BEAUTIFUL! Bravo!
    -Lily

  43. Christa

    Signed the petition. Thanks for the heads-up!

    Looking forward to your new cookbook. We own the Almond Flour Cookbook and love it :-)

  44. Becca

    Great post! I shared it on facebook.

  45. Virginia

    Excellent information, Elana. I’m hypothroid and have learned that methyl iodide affects the thyroid. I buy organic strawberries when I can find them, but now, I will only buy organic. If I can’t find them, I won’t buy them! Thank you!

  46. I am new to the gluten-free diet world as of last week. I am very glad I found your blog and book(s)! This post caught my eye for another reason though, I live in the straberry capital of the U.S. – Plant City, Florida. On one side of our property, we have a field of many acres, planted with strawberries 6 months out of the year. We live on four acres, so our house isn’t directly in the path of the pesticide sprayers; however, I have to constantly be on the lookout when the kids go out to play to make sure the farmer doesn’t spray them with his toxic fumes. We never buy non-organic strawberries, although we used to before living here over ten years ago! Living this close to strawberry fields day in and day out has taught us the importance of only buying organic strawberries, because the others are toxic!

  47. Elizabeth Rangel @ blissfulseed

    Elana,
    I love all things berry. It looks amazing. I love eating my berry smoothie, or berries with granola. I am thinking of going vegan next month. I have been an ovo-lacto vegetarian.

    Beautiful picture. Very impressed and hungry.

  48. Sherry

    Speaking of poison that EPA knows about in our foods, look up clothianidin. It’s being used on corn products, gardens, etc.. pollinating insects such as bees (my family’s love) are dying like crazy because of this product that is banned in Germany and other countries, but the US hasn’t followed suit. Not only does it have a half life of 19yrs in the soil, it’s toxic. Imagine putting that into your bodies? Without bees/pollinating insects, we won’t have locally grown food. =( Just saddening to think we have a govt that isn’t really protecting us.

  49. Emmy

    Thanks for this vital info Elana. Signed!

    Emmy

  50. Liz N

    Just pre-ordered your Gluten Free Cupcakes book! Thanks for this awareness. My daughter LOVES strawberries and now that they are in season, we have purchased a lot of them. However, they have not been organic strawberries. After reading this, I feel awful for giving her strawberries that may contain carcinogenic pesticides. Moving forward, I will seek out organic strawberries exclusively. They do cost a lot more, but worth the peace of mind. I live in Parker, CO. Do you have any suggestions for local farmers markets/farms that we could purchase strawberries for a more reasonable price than King Soopers/Sprouts/Whole Foods markets?

  51. I can’t wait for the new cupcake cookbook! I absolutely love your recipes and thank you so much for helping even the “cooking challenged” make delicious healthy meals!

  52. Summer

    I agree that the herbicide is scary and should not be used, but organic strawberry growers (especially the large ones) often use plastic sheeting for weed control. This has led to massive erosion and environmental damage from runoff in some areas of California. I realize the herbicide is a health issue, but we often overlook the effects of what is used instead of the herbicide. I think the best plan is to buy from small local farmers if possible.

  53. Beth

    I just pre-ordered your new cookbook for me and one for my daughter. We love your website and have enjoyed the recipes so much. I gave several of your first cookbooks as Christmas presents last year because of how much we enjoyed the recipes from your website. Thanks so much for your hard work and great information.

  54. Noel

    Signed it!
    Now for the cupcakes — I added a little coconut oil to the batter, served them unfrosted and called them muffins — delicious! Tomorrow we’ll add some sliced strawberries and some whipped topping or honey with vanilla and call them shortcake!
    My daughter’s school next year is nut free, so we’ll rely on coconut flour for the lunch box. I think this recipe will work with any fruit that happens to be in season!
    Thanks so much!
    : )
    Noel

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