May is National Strawberry Month and a great time to celebrate the sweetness and versatility of strawberries in their peak season, but did you know that strawberries consistently rank high on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” report for pesticide residues? In “The Metabolic Approach to Cancer” Dr. Nasha stresses the importance of eating organic foods – and growing your own – whenever possible to avoid exposure to carcinogenic pesticides and the heavy metals they contain, and this is especially true with strawberries! 

The Importance of Organic Strawberries

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes an annual “Dirty Dozen” report, highlighting produce items with the highest pesticide residues. Strawberries consistently top this list, meaning that conventionally grown strawberries often contain multiple pesticide residues, some of which may be harmful. According to an article on FoodSafety.com, for the 2024 report, the EWG analyzed 47,510 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables, finding that 75% of conventional produce had pesticide residues. For strawberries, fungicides like fludioxonil and pyrimethanil, which can disrupt endocrine function and harm reproductive health, were among the most frequently detected chemicals.

The Metabolic Approach to Cancer

For those following the metabolic approach to cancer, the importance of choosing organic produce cannot be overstated. In her book, “The Metabolic Approach to Cancer,” Dr. Nasha Winters discusses how ingested carcinogens—from food, water, and medications—harm the gastrointestinal tract on their way down. If not destroyed by gastrointestinal fluids, these carcinogens are absorbed and transported by the blood to internal organs where they wreak havoc.

Worldwide, the rates of digestive tract cancers have exploded. For instance, Cancer Research UK reported that esophageal cancer rates in men rose 50 percent over the previous twenty-five years in the United Kingdom, with high rates also prevalent in China and Iran. These cancers have been directly linked to the preservation of food using synthetic nitrosamines.

Modern conventional agricultural practices frequently use carcinogenic pesticides and heavy metals. While eating organically may seem expensive, the carcinogens found in our modern food and water supplies—in produce and meat items, as well as artificial preservatives and colors—are very dangerous to our health. Heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, and nickel, all Group 1 carcinogens, are often used in pesticides and can contribute to genetic damage and impair DNA repair pathways.

The USDA’s Pesticide Data Program documented more than fifty different pesticide residues on conventional lettuce, three of which are known or probable carcinogens. Unfortunately, you can’t simply wash these chemicals off. If it’s not organic, there are cancer-causing pesticides on your “healthy” salad.

Benefits of Eating Organic

By choosing organic strawberries, you can avoid exposure to these harmful chemicals. Organic farming practices prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, leading to cleaner, healthier produce. Growing your own strawberries organically is another excellent way to ensure you’re eating the safest and healthiest fruit possible.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen

In addition to the Dirty Dozen, the EWG publishes the “Clean Fifteen” list, which includes items with the lowest pesticide residues. Foods like avocados, onions, asparagus, and cabbage generally have fewer pesticide residues, making them safer to consume even when conventionally grown.

Enjoying Strawberry Season Safely

This National Pick Strawberries Day, enjoy the season by picking and consuming organic strawberries. By making informed choices, you can savor the sweetness of strawberries while protecting your health and the environment. Happy picking!

Visit the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™,” for more information about EWG’s analysis of the latest fruit and vegetable testing data from the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.

To learn more about the Metabolic Approach to Cancer book, click here.