Produce for Better Health
We’re proud to support Fruits & Veggies—More Matters in the effort to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in America.
When it comes to fruits and veggies, some rank higher than others when it comes to nutrient content. Find out what defines a true “superfruit” and why strawberries are highly recommended by health professionals as part of a healthy diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I just read an article in the Center for Investigative Reporting about the strawberry industry. Can you respond to the issues raised?
A. For more than 50 years, California’s family strawberry farmers have exhibited a commitment to safety, the environment and their communities. In fact, the state’s strawberry farmers have pioneered global breakthroughs in organic, environmental and pest management practices – all of which have contributed to improved safety and reduced impact to the environment.
We are disappointed that the reporters failed to include more complete information. We took reporters on tours of our fields and explained in great detail all the layers of regulations in place, which provide safeguards for California communities. Unfortunately, these reporters chose to omit much of the information provided by the CSC over the last several months about the Commission’s work regarding the safe use of fumigants. This information included:
Strawberry farmers have invested over $13 million, more than any farm group in the world, in search for solutions that control soil-borne disease without methyl bromide. These research efforts have been instrumental in the development of new technologies that reduce emissions and add extra layers of safety to the use of fumigants.
- Beginning in 2010, the use of Virtually Impermeable Film (VIF) to cover fields during application of fumigants has reduced emissions. This technology is now part of current safety requirements governing the use of soil fumigants.
Through innovation and research, California strawberry farmers are changing farming practices in the state. We have collaborated locally and globally to search for effective non-fumigant solutions to manage plant pathogens in the soil. These partnerships support rural communities to protect the environment and expand sustainable farming practices. For example:
- Farmers have partnered with U.C. Santa Cruz professors and the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) on a $1 million research partnership to fund multiple projects to reduce the reliance on fumigants.
- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently funded $750,000 in research to find solutions to manage plant diseases in the soil.
- In February 2013, strawberry farmers and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo announced a three-year, $1 million partnership to establish a Strawberry Sustainability Research and Education Center.
California’s strawberry farmers and their families live, work and go to school in the communities where they grow strawberries. Because strawberry farmers care about their communities, they continue to invest in researching fumigant alternatives and remain committed to implementing the toughest regulations in the world.
California is the only state in the nation that adds extra precautions regarding the use of pesticides. Once a pesticide is approved for use by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Department of Pesticide Regulations (CDPR) does its own scientific review prior to allowing its use in the state. CDPR often adds even stricter application requirements to EPA’s existing standards for pesticides, as is the case with fumigants.
California also is unique in that it requires local enforcement of these pesticide regulatory standards through the agricultural commissioners’ office in each county. The county ag commissioners’ office also has the authority to place additional restrictions and safety measures for a pesticide application around sensitive areas, including schools. The extra state and local precautions, which do not exist in other states, are designed to provide additional safeguards for California residents, farm workers and consumers.
Q. What is the history of fumigation?
A. In 1953, the University of California Berkeley invented methyl bromide fumigation to clean the soil of diseases that can cripple farms. Today, crops representing over half of the value of California’s $43 billion agricultural production rely on fumigation.
Q. Is methyl bromide still being used in California?
A. The amount of methyl bromide now available for soil fumigation before planting will treat less than 8% of the strawberry acreage in California. The use of methyl bromide will be fully phased out in 2016.
Q. Why are other fumigants being used?
A. Alternative fumigants are crucial to control plant diseases in the soil until new methods move beyond research-scale trials and are proven effective for use on the farm.
People love strawberries, so we get a lot of questions about California strawberries. Here are answers to some popular questions. For a chuckle or two, check out the funniest questions we've ever been asked below. If you have a favorite story about strawberries, please feel free to share!
What is the best method for growing strawberries?
Growing strawberries as a hobby is very different from commercial strawberry production. Our advice is to contact your local nursery for growing tips.
Are organic strawberries healthier than conventional?
Most studies to date show that organic and conventional strawberries are equally nutritious. Many conventional farmers use some of the same production practices that organic growers use. Health and nutrition experts recommend eating fresh fruits and veggies - whether organic or conventional. According to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people should be doubling their fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight.
Is it true that GMO is used to grow strawberries?
No. There are no genetically modified strawberries commercially grown and shipped.
Different varieties of strawberries are developed for different climates and growing conditions. These varieties are developed using traditional breeding methods that involving selecting two parents and crossing them using their flowers.
Can I freeze strawberries?
There are a few different ways to freeze strawberries. One popular method is to freeze whole without sugar to maintain shape and health benefits. Directions: After rinsing, gently blot dry and slice stem off at top of berry. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and place uncovered in freezer for a minimum of six hours. Transfer strawberries to a freezer bag or container. Frozen strawberries can be stored frozen for several months.
What's the best way to store strawberries?
For strawberries to stay fresh, do not wash them right away. Refrigerate them as soon as possible in the original clamshell or in a container with a dry paper towel at the bottom. Separate the berries by layering them with paper towels to maximize freshness. Just before using, wash strawberries with the caps attached under a gentle spray of cool water. For best flavor, serve strawberries at room temperature.
Do small berries taste better than large ones?
Flavor is influenced by growing conditions like weather, stage of ripeness when harvested, and variety. Size is not a factor in determining flavor.
Funny questions we’ve heard:
- Can you send me a picture of a strawberry tree?
- Are strawberries sold in brown containers last year's strawberries?
- Are strawberries grown in a hot house?
- Is a sweetener applied to fresh strawberries to make them so sweet?
- What are those things on the outside of strawberries?
- What does a stem berry look like?
- Can you send me a branch from a raspberry bush?