By: Dylan Rodgers
Strawberries are the most provocative of the berries, not only because they flash their seeds at anyone who will look, but also because they’re often labeled ‘organic’ when they are nothing of the sort.
Some Californian organic strawberry farmers are up in arms about the US Department of Agriculture’s vague federal regulations as to what constitutes “organic growth”. Plant nurseries grow berry plants during the non-fruiting stages. During this stage, they fumigate the plants with chemicals and pesticides that blatantly violate the organic standards set out by the Department of Agriculture. These plants go on to produce ‘organic’ berries.
In a letter, the outraged berry farmers expressed their concern and the necessity of quick action to not allow this to jeopardize organic product’s credibility. They called for the Department of Agriculture to specify its organic regulation and extend it beyond the berry production and into planting stock.
Though many ‘organic’ farmers are afraid of dealing with purely organic planting stock because of increased risk of pests and disease, more strict regulations and the growing organic market would force farmers to either go fully organic or not; no fence riders.
As beneficial as this move may be for the health of the public, it could cause the berry market to be entirely inconsistent. One year insects ruin half the crops and another year a fruity virus runs amok. With higher risk and almost assuredly less reward, organic berry farmers may eventually dwindle like their sad, insect-ridden crops. Nevertheless this would push farmers to find better alternatives for pest control other than by poisoning the public with every bite.