I am in Surry County, NC also 1/2 mile from the border of Stokes County, NC. Today I did some searching on the pickyourown.org website to locate local strawberry farms. In Surry County, I found two farms listed. None were listed in Stokes County. I called the first one listed and asked the dreaded question, "Do you spray chemicals on your strawberries." The reply I received was the usual, "Well, yes we do but everything we use is harmless. If it were dangerous, we'd all be dead by now." So I asked the prices of their berries and once she completed her list of prices I asked, "Could you tell me the name of the chemical you spray on your berries?" She paused, then asked the farmer if he knew. He said, "Yes I know what we use. It's called Captan." She repeated this information and I politely thanked her and hung up.
She fails to realize the problem with chemicals being sprayed on crops is not as immediate as "death". It is a long term problem. One that causes birth defects, infertility in young men, cancer, and more.
Captan is a fungicide that prevents things like powdery mildew on plants. It also makes the berries much redder than organic strawberries. Another thing strawberry farmers often spray on their patches is Nutrasweet. This is used to create sweeter berries.
One really bad mistake people make when picking strawberries is eating them while picking. These berries, even though they are porous and have already absorbed chemicals do retain a residue of the chemicals on the outside. This residue is suppose to be washed off really well before consuming the berry. I shiver to imagine the number of small children consuming these berries while picking them and the possible long term effects on their tiny bodies.
Long term use of chemical fungicides such as Captan and pesticides such as Diazinon not only effect the workers but those who eat the final product. These chemicals also effect the environment greatly. The residue seeps into the earth and settles into the water table. Many different varieties of tree frogs are going extinct while others are developing birth defects such as too many limbs or not enough limbs. Killing off the insects is removing their food source.
My gardens have little frogs as permanent residents. I don't shoo them out of my garden or kill them. I welcome their presence. They are the natural insect control I need for my plants. Then if I find the insects are consuming a plant of mine, I still don't use chemicals. I use flour. Yes, the stuff you make cakes and biscuits with. Why flour? Because it coats the bugs and smothers them. This is the same way Boric Acid works but without the toxicity of chemicals.
Here are some natural alternatives to harmful chemical sprays:
So far I have called both strawberry farms in the Surry County, NC area. One I won't visit due to the usage of Captan on their berries, the other had disconnected telephone numbers but by reading their ads, I am sure they spray chemicals as well.
I am having no luck in finding strawberries that are safe to eat when looking at the long term effects.
I discussed the options with my three teens and my husband today. Sadly, we were forced to make the decision not to preserve any strawberries unless we luck upon a chemical free strawberry farm somewhere in our general vicinity.