THE STRAWBERRY - WRITTEN IN 1998
The average response to being healthy is, "when I don't hurt I'm healthy." While this view is certainly acceptable I know that some of us want more out of health. Having plenty of energy is something the more active person would desire. Not getting those pesky colds and flu because they slow you down could be a desired state. Being a weekend warrior and not coming to work on Monday feeling like you have been tied to a whipping post could be a goal of the athletically inclined 50 year old. Whatever is needed or desired, it can certainly be said that achieving a higher level of health is a challenge, and staying there requires constant vigilance. "Consumer beware" is a watch-phrase worth heeding in our mechanized culture.
Perhaps the last bowl of strawberries you enjoyed can tell a story that reaches behind the marketing image that strawberries so naturally impart on the taste buds of our minds. Right here in Southern California strawberry growing is big business. Strawberry festivals will attest to that. I love them and you probably do to! But what of the dark side? Has a phantom menace undermined the freedom to achieve optimum health?
The facts are this. While strawberries are enjoyed by millions in many versions of delicacies, tremendous amounts of pesticides are sprayed on this lovely fruit before it reaches your table. Unbleached wheat receives about 1 pound of pesticide per acre of wheat field. Compare this to 325 pounds of pesticide per acre on a strawberry field. An acre is a piece of land 208 by 208 feet.
The next time you reach for a box of strawberries you might consider going to a health food store. When I wrote this article in 1998 I said see the store manager at the regular grocery store and ask him to get organic. Today, that has come true. If you have a yard and a green thumb then grow some strawberries. They look nice and are an excellent ground cover. Some sand in the soil seems to help. Strawberries multiply easily by runners and a six pack or two will multiply in a garden. The very industrious gardener might invert a cup with the bottom removed and let the plant grow up through this. This arrangement gets the berries off the ground away from doodle bugs who probably like strawberries more than people.
Statistics show that cancer, that most dreaded disease, has increased greatly throughout the twentieth century. Statistics also show that manmade chemicals of all kinds steadily increased in our environment and in the growing and processing of foods over the same period. It seems to me companies could figure out other ways to make products to improve farming such as remineralizing the soil to increase yields. It is my professional opinion that cancer is at least in part mutiny of cells to bad treatment. I do not think the National Cancer Institute has come up with any better explanation. My advice is give your charity to the organic farmer by paying more for a superior product.
Dr. Mike Spearman