Not Berry Nice!

A few months ago I binned all of my frozen berries, observe:

See ya never berries!

See ya never berries!

As I tore open the packets and emptied their contents they started to thaw somewhat and left blood coloured streaks on my fingers. It was death of the conventional berry.

Carcass.

Carcass.

Why did I do this?

Because I sniffed around a bit on the subject of pesticides used to grow berries and was none too happy with what I found. I kinda knew it already but had a head in the sand attitude to it because my kidlet loves strawberries and all parents will know what I mean when I say that any fruit they will eat ~ you let ’em have it in spades.

And because I love blueberries, I can eat a punnet in under five minutes! I pop them in two at a time and if there’s an uneven number left in the punnet I put them aside for my husband (such is my need to eat things in even numbers, cringe.)

Berries are good for you right?, full of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants. Well yes, yes they are but if they’ve been grown under conditions whereby they are sprayed up the hoo-ha with pesticides and anti-fungals then I dare say that the benefits outweighing the risks argument is likely to lean more towards the risks, especially in the little berry munchers who have less body mass and are therefore more susceptible to the toxicity affects of chemicals.

Oh, everyone knows how good berries are so we're shopping overseas to keep them in stock!

Oh, everyone knows how good berries are so we’re shopping overseas to keep them in stock!

Add to the use of pesticides and other -cides is the plain fact that the consumption of frozen berries that have been grown overseas is in complete opposition with eating local and seasonal.

Note the saccharin language on the packaging pictured above: “More and more people realise that frozen fruit is just as nutritious, delicious and easy to use as fresh. All this keeps us busy sourcing what’s best in season from around the world. …Then we lovingly pack the fruits of our labour so you can enjoy it all year round.”

This all sounds very well and good doesn’t it? Oh the berry people are choosing only the best, most vitamin packed berries from all over the world just for me because I know how good berries are. Thanks berry people!

Do they independently test each shipment of berries for vitamin levels? And is China really ALL over the world?

~Erm.

Berry farmers in Australia can't compete China. It's a dollar thing.

Berry farmers in Australia can’t compete with China. It’s a dollar thing.

I had a wee chatty to my local neighbourhood providore and also the guy who I buy berries from at the grower’s markets about what goes on with berry growing here in Australia and the take-home message is that Australia has strict regulations when it comes to the use of pesticides and as such the berries that are grown in countries (such as China) where regulations differ considerably are cheaper to bring in.

What a load of SHITE!

But adding more shit to the load is that Australia is actually also shamefully guilty of producing berries with higher than acceptable levels of pesticides.

Poo-bum.

So I bought these instead, they cost nearly ten dollars (ouch!)

Bilambil = best blueberries I ever did taste!

Bilambil = best blueberries I ever did taste!

Then when I went back the next time I bought two punnets and did this with them:

Put 'em on ice like proper special food.

Put ’em on ice like proper special food.

Blueberries freeze really well, just rinse and allow to dry then pop into a zip-lock bag and into the icebox they go.

I also bought a strawberry plant, too late in the season to produce fruit but I’ve got it green and thriving at present and I look forward to its fruit when the time is right.

From time to time I have bought strawberries, when SP has requested them, but I still choose the more expensive option from the grower’s market which are grown in a poly tunnel not far from where I live. I wash them like nobody’s business and ration them to her four at a time so that she’s not eating heaps in one go.

It’s totally your call, I don’t wanna freak you out and I know that eating fresh berries is a pleasure. They’re small, colourful and sweet and so easy to just pop, pop, pop into your gob.

My suggestions when it comes to buying and eating berries are to choose Australian grown and wash well: dissolve salt or vinegar into lukewarm water and soak for some time before rinsing and allowing to dry or patting dry.

And you know there’s always other fruit you can select when berries aren’t abundant, I’m currently digging seasonal oranges and pears which I’ve turned SP onto as I ensure I share with her whenever I eat them, cutting little cubes and slices and offering them to her in colourful bowls. It’s all about leading by example and taking the time to share our food experiences with our children.

For more reading on the use of pesticides on berries/in Australia ~ you can read the following:

Strawberry industry vows to crack down on use of pesticides, The Age.

Strawberries test reveals health concerns, Choice.

The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic, The Daily Green.

Australia is lagging behind when it comes to chemical regulation.

A list of Australia’s most dangerous pesticides, National Toxics Network.

Look, I hope I haven’t gone to that place of holier-than-thou nutritionist but this kind of stuff is important to me, and even though my diet surely isn’t “clean” of chemicals that are used to grow and process foods, when I know I can make significant differences I do. And by choosing to buy local and organic I am not only doing a good thing for my health, but I’m supporting the farmers and that’s aces.

Check this blueberry and banana smoothie I made using a 1/4 cup of those frozen organic blueberries, I snapped it with my digital camera there’s no Instafilters or nuffin. I was like “Whoa this is some vivid phytochemical action going on in my smoothie!”

Purple reign!

Purple reign!

And that’s what you want from fresh produce: the goods man. Not the bads. So where you can and where it’s more important to do so: buy organic. Read through that “Dirty Dozen” list I’ve linked back up there, it’s an American article but it’s pretty relevant to us here in Oz.

~Yours with a berry warm cuddle, K180, x

Comments

  1. I totally have my head intentionally in the sand about this issue too.
    I love berries.
    My whole family loves berries.
    And frozen berries are so good for smoothies and muffins and even just eating frozen!
    Sometimes I compromise and buy organic Australian berries but at about $10.00 a pack I just get bitter…especially as I am home in the States at the moment and we picked 10 pounds of the most delicious strawberries for $20.00.
    I have been trying to eat my fill since I know in Australia I just can’t afford to eat as many berries as I would like!

    • I hear you C

    • Katie180 says:

      It’s just such a shame that we are even in a position of choosing to bury our heads in the sand, why can’t agriculture just quit with all the poisons?
      Well enjoy your berry bounty whilst you’re abroad! x

      • I totally agree.
        I get really angry that the government takes zero responsibility for its citizens and won’t regulate the use of chemicals. And for that matter that corporations won’t just of their own accord stop using things that are harmful to their consumers!
        I watched the saddest documentary last night about how Obama passed this amazing bill that redefined nutrition for children in America…and how the potato and corn industries then managed to get it diluted.
        Just do what is right people!

  2. I read about the frozen berries and pesticides stuff. So depressing. Frankly my local providor is Woolworths so, you know.
    Anyway I stopped buying the frozen berries and then started again. But it is awful.

    • I meant to say, I started buying them again because I forgot. But I try not to buy any food stuffs that are product of China for that reason…there’s always been a number of food things at Aldi made in China, tins and stuff. Worries me. Will have to ditch the frozen berries again too. Boo.

      • Katie180 says:

        It’s such a piss take that we buy in fruit and veg to Australia and I really feel for the farmers, particularly the small holder farmers who have suffered because of this. I dream of a home grown revolution.
        Vive La Aussie Farmers!

  3. oh poo – I didn’t want to read that Katie. frozen Raspberries are a fave in our house with some natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. let them defrost and they sort of turn into a slushie. mmmm.

    • Katie180 says:

      Lisa, if there’s one thing we all dislike about the truth it’s that it can be inconvenient.
      To me this particular issue is real bummer but it’s more of a bummer if I overlook it.
      I just want to encourage awareness & mindfulness where our food supply is concerned. X

  4. Understood. Onto apple and pear compote instead!

  5. I try to eat stuff in season.
    And always Australian – tinned tomatoes etc. Our local indie supermarket stocks Aussie frozen berries.

    • Katie180 says:

      That’s great that you have access to Aussie grown frozen berries. I’m going to have to sniff around a bit further…!

  6. Bloody hell I hate the way things are going. I refuse to let my child eat strawberries and tomatoes for this very reason. We eat home grown or not at all and if I buy tomatoes canned I buy organic. I wish these companies would start listening to consumers. I’m certainly voting with my feet and my money. I won’t be buying these berries again. Thanks for the information. Bree.

    • Katie180 says:

      I hate it too Bree! :( But I have faith in a shift toward a simpler, honest and time-honoured way of doing things. It starts with me, and with you and we teach our children. We campaign if we feel like it’s appropriate and we support local growers when we buy their produce. Every dollar we choose to spend away from big supermarkets and big agriculture is a dollar better spent! x

  7. I’m on the journey to becoming organic and chemical free. You’re right when you say that the truth can be inconvenient. I’m glad you posted links for more information on pesticides on berries in Australia for research nerds out there like me.

    • Katie180 says:

      It’s not in my nature to bullshit and when it comes to my blog I am only ever going to tell the truth, at risk of ruffling feathers ~ ! Good for you, (literally!) embarking on the journey toward whole foods eating. x

  8. A friend told me recently that the kilos of frozen rasps I was buying were from OS and I didn’t believe her… then I read the packet. Not happy with those food miles!!

    I’ve bought some organic mixed berries from Wollies, grown in New Zealand. As my granny would say: ‘To hell with expense, fling on another kipper.”

    I buy loads of blueberries in the summer and never wash them… sigh… time to read…

    • Katie180 says:

      Your Granny sounds like a cracker of a lady!
      Don’t fret about the berries, just choose Australian or NZ, wash well and eat sparingly if you have other fruity options to choose from. Where possible buy organic, x

  9. Just to add fuel to the fire–you need to be very careful about buying any produce from NZ as well. They have a free trade agreement with China as well, so when we get produce from NZ it is often mixed with produce from China. Sometimes it says ‘Made in NZ with local and important ingredients’-however it doesn’t always have to. I am not sure of the obligations in NZ in relation to labelling laws, but know that berries and some dairy are a mix of local and imported. Such as shame for the beautiful produce of NZ as well.
    On a happier front-I live in Melbourne and have been able to find regional producers that grow organic berries. I drive (sometime it is a 3 hour return trip-but I turn it into a day trip with the kids), where you can pick your own, and once pick you own is finished they often have frozen ‘2nds’ berries for $17-$20/kilo. They are not beautiful to look at, but great for baking, smoothiesr etc, and my kids like to eat them frozen as snacks–they still taste great; and that is really good value when you consider blueberries and raspberries are 125g packs.
    Once these are gone–so are the berries until next year.
    I also grow strawberries in old wheelbarrows (I rent). They are great as they send out runners each autumn and you get new free berry plants for next year. We get about a punnet a week from them, none ever make it inside. I wont buy regular strawberries as you cannot get rid of the chemical residues in them-they are grown in chemicals from the start (not just sprayed) and are part of the cellular structure of the fruit. This also true of other fruit & veg, for example 27 different pesticides and insecticides are used to raise cauliflowers.
    Sorry to be so alarming-but once you have the knowledge you can then make informed decisions……

    • Oh absolutely it’s important to know. I plain don’t buy frozen berries any more and only buy fresh berries when I can see that they’re grown locally. And you’re on the right track with the only eating berries when they’re around, that’s very much in keeping with seasonal eating! :)

  10. I will never buy frozen berries from outside australia every again after this latest scare. Pesticides or Hep A…both evil to our bodies. Not worth it! I keep thinking my morning smoothie is so healthy but is it really? And I just finished a packet of Creative Gourmet Frozen berries last week. Now stressing for the next month if I have hep A is no fun and will forever remind me Not to purchase overseas frozen goods or any food item from China/Asia for that matter ever. Hard lesson to learn that’s for sure.Fresh is best!!

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