My best friend and I were at the local farmer’s market buying fruit. We bought lots of fresh organic berries, which the kids LOVE! My instinct was to go home and wash them first, but my girlfriend commented, “Yeah, I don’t wash my berries. I mean how much do you really get off of them from a quick rinse anyway?” While I had always been a must wash fruit fanatic, her comment managed to make its way into my head – and it’s stayed there. I find myself sometimes getting lazy about washing my berries. Especially because I found that once raspberries are washed, they go bad right away. You can’t put washed raspberries back in the fridge and expect to eat them the next day. Plus my kids got into the bad habit of washing them in the plastic packaging they come in. But that has an absorbent paper on the bottom which stays wet and causes everything to get moldy. And that just drives me CRAZY, because organic berries are super expensive! I hate to throw them away because they were washed and stored incorrectly. So I find myself not washing my organic berries anymore. Does a quick rinse really do much? I still hear her voice. Is that bad? I would never skip a wash if they are not organic…
We went organic blueberry picking in Rochester, Vermont – and we were allowed to taste the different types of blueberries right off the bush, so we could see which type we preferred, before we filled our baskets. It was SO much fun! The beautiful Green Mountains were in the backdrop and the berries were big and juicy. I can’t believe we only filled one container each. Because we ate them ALL on the way to the hotel! We could definitely have bought more. But, getting back to the point of washing…well, we didn’t wash them before they were eaten that day either. Sometimes when we eat organic blueberries on the way home from the grocery store, I do think it tastes a bit off…but I always thought it was just in my head since I felt guilty about not washing them.
Unfortunately, it appears that even organic produce can have some residual pesticide contamination. Check out this article which references a USDA study done in 2014, where 20% of the organic produce that was tested, did have some pesticide residue.
Granted, these amounts are very small. But this article also references another study done earlier, where 40% of the samples had a detectable amount of residue. They believe this could be a result of contaminated soil or groundwater. Anyway, the fact remains that organic produce will have dramatically less pesticide residue than non-organic, but it’s not zero. A fellow parent from school that owns grape vineyards in California, stated quite firmly that since she knows first hand what gets sprayed on her grapes, she never buys non-organic grapes. Something to think about.
Now, wild blueberries found on the mountainside of the Acadia National Park in Maine? I have no problem eating them! No one is spraying anywhere near here. And although they look so tiny, they are SUPER sweet.
My homestead plans include planting a lot of blueberry and raspberry bushes – they are easy to grow and give lots of fruit, but I’ve never thought about the contamination that might be coming from the soil and water on my land. While we probably will eat some right off the bush, I mean there really isn’t anything better than that, washing my store-bought organic berries is something I plan to be more diligent about. Hopefully, as we get more berries growing at home, we won’t need to buy any from the store!
Growing berries is one of the easiest ways to start producing food on your homestead. It is a vivid childhood memory for me: the excitement as we ran around to the side of the house, the sun, the thorns, checking for bugs, and finally the fuzzy feel of the berry before popping it into my mouth.