Strawberries are delicious, but are they safe?

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We were at the farmer’s market last weekend and spied a whole table full of strawberries. We know the guy selling them, and it was very tempting to buy three quarts or more for freezing or jam-making. (All the other berries that have come our way this season have gotten gobbled up fresh.)

But, unfortunately, we don’t know whether he grows organically. We have to assume he doesn’t. And while I might let that slide in the case of some other crops, I’ve seen strawberries top several lists of "produce most sprayed with pesticides." I guess they’re harder to grow without chemicals, though it’s certainly possible. So I’m wary of eating them unless I know how they’re grown.

It makes me wonder about all the folks taking their kids to U-pick strawberry farms these last few weeks. I’m sure it’s a grand time and makes for cute photos (all those red-smeared cheeks and fingers!), but is it safe? Don’t you want to at least rinse those things off before the tykes ingest them?

I’m hopeful that perhaps small local growers aren’t spraying as heavily as big ol’ agribiz strawberry farms. Anyone have the scoop? Do you eat strawberries right out of local fields?

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