“Mommy, why are there men in space suits in the cherry trees?” asked my preschooler with the sound of concern in his voice.
I must preface this by saying that we live within a five minute drive from a few commercial cherry orchards. In fact we pass them almost daily and it’s always a delight to follow the cherry trees’ progression from regaining their leaves, to the beautiful cherry blossoms to the teensy green balls that will eventually become deep red cherries. However, on this one particular day in early spring we happened to drive past as tractors driven by people in ‘space suits’ chugged along leaving a big cloud behind them….It was spray day.
In their purest form, cherries are high in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids (antioxidants), they are good for the joints and for cancer protection. They are also an extremely effective diuretic and best eaten fresh although…
Even as I write this I get a little incensed by the ludicracy of the practices of growing conventional food. Even my 5 year old is able to connect the dots by asking: “if that man is dressed up in a space suit because of the poison he is spraying, why would anyone eat the cherries?”
Don’t get me wrong! I am in NO way advocating that you should never
over indulge in cherries! As a family we go cherry picking every year at a local organic orchard and engage in a huge binge! I can also say that the tummy rumblings that ensue are totally worth it!! 🙂
Although you may not have the opportunity to pick your own cherries it may be helpful to know a few tidbits about the cherry world before deciding where to spend your cherry dollars.
- The most common insect pests of cherries are: cherry fruit fly, black cherry aphid, fruit tree leafroller, and cherry slug
- Conventional cherry orchards have a slew of insecticides that are permitted for use to combat these pests and depending on the brand chosen it must be reapplied every 7-14 days…yuck!
- The Organic Grocery Australia reports that over 90% of conventional cherries contain pesticides and most cherries tested are contaminated with more than one pesticide.The Organic Consumer explains “…cherries from the US are three times more contaminated than their imported counterparts…”
- 1,3 Dichloropropene (also sold under many other names), is an approved insecticide for cherries and many other crops in the US and Canada. EPA has classified 1,3-dichloropropene as a probable human carcinogen. The CDC has linked it to cancer of the bladder, liver, lung and forestomach in animals. It is obviously toxic, carcinogenic, environmentally hazardous and here’s a shocker… it’s in the process of being phased out in the EU!
Organic cherries can be a game of roulette too! We’ve had some from a family owned acreage that were 100% unsprayed and 100% worm infested! Admittedly that slowed us down a bit that year.
In order to be truly effective, organic growers must be proactive. Some non-chemical methods include:
- removal of all fruit (after harvest) before the larvae emerge (this reduces breeding sources and fruit fly populations for next season)
- covering the fruit trees with specially designed net bags. The covers prevent the fly from reaching the fruit to lay eggs. They must be secured around the tree until after harvest.
There are also some approved sprays that still allow cherries to be ‘certified organic’: Entrust and GF-120 are 2 of the most popular. They affect the nervous system of the insect (doesn’t sound ideal) and/or control the larvae. The Entrust site is riddled with precautions for use (again, not ideal). GF-120 on the other hand is (apparently) considered a non-toxic ingredient. It is sprayed onto the foliage of the trees as small gel-like bait stations. Each bait station is about 6 inches in diameter. Apparently, tests indicate that GF-120 has little effect on mammalian nervous systems, even at very high doses (woot?).
I vote for the non sprayed, yet proactive organic option but those aren’t the easiest to find. We have also purchased the GF-120 sprayed certified organic option because cherries are just THAT good (and we all have our compromise, don’t we?)!
There is no consensus on the efficacy of fruit washes. Not surprisingly, there are companies that make a ‘natural’ wash and claim that they reduce 98% of pesticides. Their ingredients however, are slightly contradictory to their purpose in that they include both ethyl alcohol and citric acid (from corn that is most like GMO). No thanks!
My solution is home made and inexpensive. I’ve used it when I bought the certified organic, sprayed cherries. I’m no scientist but from what I’ve researched, using an acidic medium can prove effective in removing pesticide residue. With each batch of cherries that I soaked in my home made wash, I noticed a shimmery film on the surface of the water. I’m convinced it was GF-120 residue. 🙂
Anyhoo without further adieu….here’s my super special Libby’s Produce Wash:
1. Fill sink with water
2. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar
3. Add cherries
4. Soak for 15 minutes then rinse with fresh water.
Enjoy your cherries responsibly! 😉
This post is also shared with: Cupcake n Bake, Nourishing Treasures, Create With Joy, Natural Living Mamma, A Life in Balance, Flour me with Love, Home Grown and Healthy, Alderberry Hill, Homemaker on a Dime, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Intoxicated on Life, Tessa Domestic Diva, Not Just a Housewife, My Cultured Palate, Domessblissity, Thank Your Body, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, The Nourishing Gourmet, Jill’s Home Remedies, The Self Sufficient Home Acre, Living Well Spending Less, Ann Kroeker, The Veggie Nook, Joy in My Kitchen, All our Days, The Shabby Nest