Corn-tamination Series: Berries

I can eat some organic berries and not others. It’s not the berries themselves: it’s corn.  Giant brand organic strawberries were no good, but Driscoll’s I can have. Driscoll’s and some french-canadian brand of blueberries I can do, but not Naturipe organic blueberries. And I can’t do any berries that have the soaker pads in them, no matter who they came from. I’ve also reacted to locally-picked organic berries at the farmers’ market.  Even the Driscoll’s berries that I can tolerate, I only tolerate *most* of the time, not all of the time. Once in a while I’ll get a carton or two that are no good and have to return or give them away.

A little googling tells me that the list of pesticides and fungicides allowed on organic berries is lengthy. Pyganic (pyrethrin) is just one of the sprays. The active ingredient is 2% of the mix and undisclosed “other ingredients” that smell like vegetable oil according to the MSDS makes up the other 98%. Considering some of my experiences with trying to get details on the “other ingredients” of products like this I doubt I’d be able to find out exactly what’s in it, but I think it’s safe enough to assume corn-based solvents and coating agents.

I asked a friend who has worked at a berry farm about other ways that corn could get in. My first thought was that the berries might be rinsed with citric acid, as some bagged salad greens are, and here’s what he said (paraphrased):

The berries aren’t rinsed as they will start to deteriorate quickly if rinsed. They ARE however gas-ripened with ethylene gas (from corn ethanol). Strawberries are grown on black plastic (could be corny) sheets for weed control. Berries are watered with PVC drip hoses, and there are TONS of fertilizers that are organic but corny. There are also many kinds of organic dusts and pest control sprays that could be corny.

Berres are often picked with corn starch-powdered gloves, possibly even latex, and they are also shipped in cardboard containers which could  contain corn fibers.  Those green composite baskets cause problems for a lot of people. There is also a very real possibility for cornfields right next to where the berries are grown.

For grocery store berries, there are also the soaker pads- I don’t know what the pads themselves are made out of, but pads like that often contain corn-derived citric acid as a preservative/anti-microbial.

So there ya go! Only about a million ways for corn to get in!