Thursday, December 01, 2005

Poisonous, yet ever-so-tasty…

OK, now, here’s one that boggles my mind. And I personally feel that’s saying something, because I’m not what can be called an “alarmist” when it comes to such things. I’m not that into the whole organic thing – shoot, anybody who eats at McDonalds (not that I do) (“Yes, I’d like a Big Mac, small fries extra salt, and a chocolate shake, please…”) (GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!!!!!) can hardly claim they give a whoop-tee-doo about what’s going into their body.

But this truly does cause my brain to freeze up and go, “HUH?!”

Apparently, the Gummint feels it’s perfectly OK to inject methyl bromide into our strawberry, tomato and so forth fields because otherwise {gasp! horror!} we wouldn’t have a nice, big crop of same. Here in California, an otherwise touchy-feely-organic-Independent/Democratic-tree-hugging-granola-crunching kind of state, we apparently use a whopping 30% of the total national methyl bromide for our damned (yet ever-so-loved, juicy, large, can’t-have-summer-without-em) strawberries.

Let’s see. We know that this stuff is a nasty ozone thief. Class 1, mind you. Not the mere Class 2 for this stuff. Oh no. It’s a major public enemy here. Per the Montreal Protocol treaty (signed by 183 of us World Power types), we were supposed to have fully phased out the use of it by 2005 (oh wait, hey, that’s NOW!).

Never mind that 182 other countries have signed the international Montreal Protocol stating that this stuff is bad news and needs to go bye-bye. Never mind that we also know it is a damned poison, which causes the following list of nastiness:

redness and pain of the skin
burning of the eyes, mouth and nose
nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
kidney problems
chest tightness
fluid in the lungs
lack of energy
low blood pressure
rapid heart rate

Hey, don’t worry about that stuff. We need to keep our perspective. We need to keep our eyes on the prize. We’re talking about our summer bumper crop of strawberries, here!!

And gee whiz, the farmers would just be hurt ever-so-bad if we made them do without it. Not to mention that strawberries would become more expensive, which would probably cripple the American consumer. Imagine! Fourth of July parties, with no strawberries!

OK, I do actually have every sympathy for the growers. As a raging capitalist pig, I don’t like to see anybody’s business harmed. And I know the angst of seeing your strawberries consumed by the damned snails and maggots, because guess what happened to my entire strawberry crop last year? Yes, that’s right! The snails had a feast. A big feast. And we got precisely one (1) strawberry, which one of my children picked while it was still green. Swell.

And I have every sympathy for myself, because I’m both too cheap and too poor to pay for a $6.00 basket of tiny, worm-ridden “organic” strawberries (God, you’d think someone at the supermarket would weed those suckers out!). My personal strawberry crops being fairly pathetic year after year, I’m pretty sure that the lack of these huge crops would probably mean we’ll be doing without strawberries in large part.

But hey, know what? I can live without them. I really can. I’m about 99% certain that nobody has ever laid down and died because they couldn’t have a strawberry. Especially when having them means I’m giving a wink and nod to the massive use of a chemical that has been proven – not just suspected, not something that once gave your auntie a big old headache so we’re sure it’s got to be evil, not something we must fight purely on the basis that it is produced by – but proven by anybody who cared to take a close look at it (even the researchers!), to be an earth-destroying, person-harming gaseous ball of nasty.

That’s a line we just shouldn’t cross.

Shame on the Gummint for winking at it, for making excuses and telling all these other concerned world citizens that it’s just bad business to do away with it.

Shame on the farmers for continuing to use it – sure, it’s profitable. So is selling crack. Both are controlled substances that cause real, permanent harm to human beings. In fact, I’d argue that this stuff is worse than crack: not only does it harm the human beings, but all the birds and bees and fishes and trees as well.

And shame on us, too, for paying more attention to the price of a basket of strawberries or tomatoes than what is done to make them “affordable.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m off to research how I can terminate snails and slugs in my (alleged) strawberry beds without the use of pellets my kids will consider a fun addition to their afternoon playtime in the backyard.

1 comment:

PipneyJane said...

Slugs and snails? Nematods are your answer (don't quote my spelling, though). You buy them in a packet, add water and water them over your garden. They are tiny parasites that kill slugs from the inside.

Another idea is to grow your strawberries in hanging baskets (I plan to try this next year).

Wish I could rec your post!

- Pam (agree totally with you)