Strawberries and Pesticides
Conventional (non-organic) strawberries can contain up to 20 pesticides. Why are so many pesticides used in growing strawberries? Do those pesticides hurt your health? What about the health of the workers who plant and harvest strawberries? In this lesson, you’ll learn about the history and impacts of pesticide use in strawberry farming.
- Pesticide: any substance used for preventing or destroying pests in farming or gardening
- Fumigant: pesticides that produces fumes that are used to kill or prevent pests
- Fungicide: any substance used to kill or prevent fungi from growing
- Residue: the part of something that remains - in this case pesticides on fruit
Strawberries used to be a seasonal fruit, available only during the spring and summer. Now, strawberries are available year-round in part because of the use of toxic chemical pesticides. These pesticides help prevent and kill pests that damage strawberry plants and strawberries. However, there are concerns about the health effects of consuming residual pesticides. Every year the Environmental Working Group releases their Dirty Dozen™ list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue and most types of pesticide residue. Strawberries have been at the top of that list for the past five years. In addition to potentially harming consumers, pesticides affect farmworkers and communities that live near fields where pesticides are applied.
This short animated video titled “A Brief History of the Modern Strawberry” from Reveal discusses the use of chemicals to kill insects, fungi, and other pests that damage strawberry crops.