A Victory on Strawberry Fumigants

Happy First Day of Spring! It feels a little strange to be saying those words this year, since we haven’t seen much winter weather at all in 2012 — until last week anyway.

Supporters of organic and sustainable agriculture everywhere got some great news this morning: Arysta Lifesciences (sic) announced today that they are suspending the release of their extremely controversial fumigant Methyl Iodide. Subscribers might remember a newsletter I did discussing this product, named “Midas” in an apparent failure by Arysta’s marketing team to fully understand the meaning of an ancient cautionary Greek myth.

Conventional strawberry growers currently rely heavily on Methyl Bromide, which has been banned due to its ozone-destroying properties. Fumigants like Methyl Bromide and Methyl Iodide are used to sterilize the soil, allowing growers to plant strawberries every year in the same fields. (Organic strawberry growers must rotate crops through their fields to prevent the build up of pathogens that kill the berry plants.) The conventional strawberry industry is desperate to find a way to continue their current unsustainable practices.

Many of you, along with tens of thousands of other citizens, took action to try to stop the state of California’s from approving this highly toxic chemical with a proven record of causing cancer. That effort unfortunately failed. But in its wake, a number of sustainable agriculture and environmental groups launched a lawsuit challenging Methyl Iodide’s approval. With today’s decision, Arysta and their lawyers appear to have decided that they were likely to lose the lawsuit.

Citizen action through letter writing and emailing, and legal action by activist groups, is one way to protest the use of dangerous pesticides like Methyl Iodide. But they don’t address the real root of the problem: the unsustainable system of production that is used to produce cheap conventional strawberries. The best way to protest this system is to simply boycott the product — only buy organic strawberries.

Organically grown strawberries disprove all the excuses made by conventional growers except one: the berries will be “too expensive”. Consumers who believe organic strawberries (or organic anything, for that matter) cost too much are comparing them to conventional berries grown using a system that depends 100% on the use of dangerous chemicals. Cheap strawberries are cheap for a reason. Isn’t it worth paying a dollar more for a basket of strawberries so that we don’t have to use products like Methyl Iodide?

Thanks,

Pablito

Editor’s Note:

I am changing the way I name the newsletters each week to make the Constant Contact archive a bit more user-friendly. Instead of just a date, each newsletter will also have a short description of the subject as well as the name of the recipe. Unfortunately, the subject content will still not show up in Google searches because the body of each email is not archived on the TFF website. And Constant Contact will not allow me to go back in and rename old newsletters. However, if you are looking for a particular recipe or subject in the future, you should still be able to find it more easily with the new newsletter titling.

In Your Boxes

There were some problems last week with consistency in the size of the Asparagus bunches that we didn’t notice until after the Wednesday boxes were delivered. Thanks to subscribers who helped bring this to our attention. Bunches in all the boxes this week should be a full pound.

Some subscribers asked if they would be getting more than one bunch any time soon, and the answer is: Yes. Next week Large boxes and possibly Medium boxes will get two bunches.

With many of our staple late winter vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale) having fallen victim to freezing and insects, we are going to rely more on asparagus to fill your boxes in the next few weeks. We don’t want anyone to get sick of asparagus, but we are also curious how much you would like to see in your box. Do you want two bunches regularly, or is one enough? Would three bunches (probably just in a Large box) be too many on occasion?

In the next few weeks as we wait for spring crops like strawberries and peas to arrive, we will also be sending another round of walnuts and pistachios your way. Other than that, we will do our best to keep as much diversity as possible in the boxes given the limited range of crops that we still have available.

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