Organic Bytes
Newsletter #852: Don’t Eat Plasticberries!


Don’t Eat Plasticberries!

By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director, OCA:

Last week, we alerted you to the problems in Mexico caused by Michoacán’s avocado cartel clearing forests & stealing water so we can eat Wholly Guacamole. (If you haven’t yet, take action here.)

But, as I learned preparing that alert, it’s not just avocados. Driscoll’s strawberries are also driving deforestation & water theft in Mexico.

In Michoacán, the farmers around Lake Pátzcuaro say Driscoll’s has been digging illegal wells to irrigate its plastic-covered plantations and it was former Michoacán governor Silvano Aureoles who gave Driscoll’s government machinery to clear the land and drill the wells. The farmers claim that Aureoles profited personally from deals he made with Driscoll’s and that he promised special security to the berry producers and legal certainty so that they would continue their production. Today, all the land where the strawberries are grown is protected by heavily armed people.

“White guards, they call them, they bring large-caliber weapons, they have intimidated many of us, they have tried to uproot us,” a farmer quoted in 2021 by El Sol De Morelia said.

What about Driscoll’s Fair Trade and Organic strawberries?

The Mexico Solidarity Project warns against buying Driscoll’s berries, even if they’re certified Fair Trade, because even though some of its Mexican workers have unionized, they still haven’t gotten a contract. 

Likewise, Organic Eye doesn’t recommend Driscoll’s organic berries, which due to a rule change the company lobbied for, can be grown in plastic containers—without soil!

READ MORE: Driscoll Mexico’s Plasticberries: Stolen Water, Sweated Labor & Armed Guards

TAKE ACTION: Tell Driscoll’s to stop growing plasticberries in Mexico with sweated labor, stolen water and armed guards!


It’s Strawberry Season!

There’s nothing like a locally grown organic strawberry, but you can’t get them at most grocery stores.

On the East Coast right now, Mom’s Organic Market is selling organic strawberries from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op, an organic co-op of over 100 small farms.

But, even now, at the height of strawberry season, most organic grocery store strawberries are coming from massive industrial farms in California or Mexico. Even if you live near those farms, you’ll know the difference when you get strawberries grown the old-fashioned way, rather than in plastic-covered rows or containers. Industrially-grown strawberries, even the certified USDA Organic ones, should be called plastic berries!

Strawberries aren’t that hard to grow. They don’t mind weeds and they’ll come back year after year. I have a little patch here in Maryland that’s been going strong without any help from me for nearly a decade now.

It used to be really hard to find truly organic strawberry plants. Organic strawberry growers would purchase their annual plant stock from conventional plant nurseries that used synthetic chemicals for pre-plant soil fumigation. Now, there are farms like the Innovative Organic Nursery committed to making organically grown bare-root strawberry starts available. Where you buy plants, ask if they’re getting their strawberry starts from a certified organic nursery. The Berkeley Horticultural Nursery is.

You can also get Fragaria virginiana Duchesne, the Virginia Strawberry, also known as wild strawberry, a ground-hugging plant with a perennial root system that produces a loose cluster of small, five-petaled flowers followed by the finest, sweetest, tastiest strawberries. The edible portion of the strawberry is actually the central portion of the flower which is covered with the embedded, dried, seed-like fruit. Cultivated strawberries are hybrids developed from this native species and the South American one. They’re already sold out for the season, but you can buy them again starting in October. Native bare root Virginia Strawberries are dug and shipped while dormant, mid-October to early Spring. They’re native to the region between Georgia and Oklahoma, but they can be grown anywhere in the country. Fun fact from the Experimental Farm Network: this strawberry can fight lung cancer!

Even if you don’t grow your own, you can still pick your own at a farm near you. Stock up now. Freeze them or make jam. It’s easier than you think and you can say no to plasticberries all winter!

Driscoll’s uses the hashtag #SweetnessWorthSharing. Let’s blow it up! Tag them with it, posting photos of real strawberries, growing, picked or ready to eat! And add #BoycottDriscollsPlasticberries to make sure they get the message.

Find locally grown organic strawberries on our Regenerative Farm Map


How to Protect Yourself From Tick-Borne Diseases

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“Story at-a-glance

  • The prevalence of Lyme disease was reported to be 70% higher in 2022 than the annual U.S. average from 2017 to 2019, primarily due to changes in case reporting standards in high-incidence jurisdictions. High-incidence areas now report Lyme disease cases based on laboratory evidence alone, potentially inflating statistics due to eliminated requirements for clinical data
  • Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a distinctive “bulls eye” rash, fatigue, and fever, progressing to more severe neurological and arthritic symptoms in later stages
  • Diagnosing and treating Lyme disease is a complex affair, made even more complicated due to the frequent existence of co-infections
  • Holistic specialists may integrate antibiotic therapy with dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, and natural remedies to manage and treat Lyme disease
  • Effective prevention includes avoiding tick habitats, using protective clothing, and using safe insect repellents like oil of lemon eucalyptus”

Read more


Tips & Tricks for Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Excerpt from Energetic Herbalism by Kat Maier:

“When deciding the best season for harvesting a particular herb, simply think about where the energy resides in the plant. In the winter, roots are dormant, which actually means they are storing energy for new growth. In the spring as leaves unfurl, energy rises skyward to increase surface area of foliage for optimal photosynthesis. Flower formation requires a tremendous amount of energy; flowers express sexuality and reproduction and are the creators of the seeds that will ensure proliferation of the species.

When To Harvest

Although timing of harvesting varies somewhat by region, here are some general guidelines:

  • If you want to harvest leaf medicine, it is best to gather before the plant flowers.
  • When harvesting lowers, gather blossoms just before or at full flower.
  • Gather seeds after they have turned from green to maturity, but do not wait too long because the oils and medicine in them can dissipate.
  • For roots, harvest after the second frost. The first frost alerts all above-ground parts of the plant to drop into the root for winter storage. After the second frost most of the plant energy has moved into the root. If you live in a region where temperatures do not drop below freezing, harvest the root when the plant is in its most dormant state.

For all aboveground plant parts, it is best to wait to harvest until after 10 a.m., or after the dew has evaporated and before the intense heat of the day wilts the plant. Harvesting after a series of sunny days is ideal because it makes drying the harvested plant parts that much easier.”

Learn how to dry herbs after harvesting, where to dry herbs and moving herbs into storage


Global Pharmagarchy!

The World Health Organization is an unelected, unaccountable, Bill Gates-funded attempt at a global dictatorship run by the pharmaceutical companies. Unfortunately, 194 countries, including the United States, act like it’s legitimate, and they’re meeting this week as the World Health Assembly to debate amendments to the International Health Regulations.

The International Health Regulations are already a framework for global vaccine passports (Article 36 Certificates of vaccination or other prophylaxis) that “are valid only if the vaccine or prophylaxis used has been approved by WHO.”

The amendments would give the WHO even greater power to unilaterally declare “pandemic emergencies” whenever there’s a “risk” of the disease crossing borders, overwhelming health systems, causing substantial disruptions and requiring coordinated international action.

The amendments would also require each country to increase its “core capacities for prevention surveillance, preparedness and response,” including by “addressing misinformation and disinformation.”

TAKE ACTION: Stop the World Health Organization’s Global Pharmagarchy!


“Natural” Front Yards Are the Trend for Prettier Landscaping That Doesn’t Rely on Lawn for Curb Appeal

Luke Arthur Wells writes for Livingect:

“Drifts of planting that feels organic and wild, yet under control, is what the most design (and environmentally) conscious homeowners want for their front yards

The classic front yard is a cliché — perfectly manicured lawn and pristine topiary isn’t a reflection of the biggest transformations we’ve seen in landscaping in the past 10 or 20 years.

Today’s take on yard design is informed by natural landscapes, and reflects a more organic approach to planting that not only is, arguably, better looking, but is better for the planet too. Ditching lawn for more wildlife friendly front yard landscaping ideas can transform local ecosystems and attract beneficial garden insects, birds and more.

However, for many people still, the idea of “naturalistic” planting strikes fear, especially if they live under the tyranny of a strict HOA, but as landscape designers prove time and time again in their front yard projects, there’s a way to embrace the wildness of natural landscaping, without losing control.” 

Learn how they achieve it


10 Spring Vegetables And What To Make With Them

By Gabby Romero, Delish:

“The sun is out, flowers are blooming, and some of our favorite vegetables are ready for harvest.

When shopping at supermarkets, you can pretty much find every ingredient you want any time of the year. However, produce that’s out of season is typically sourced from far away places with warmer weather. While that’s not inherently a bad thing, there’s a case to be made for in-season, locally sourced produce.

Local, seasonal produce is usually cheaper since it’s more abundant and didn’t have to travel far. It’s also more flavorful, because food transported from other countries is often picked before it’s ripe to avoid spoilage in transit.

And, most importantly, eating in-season vegetables is the best way to celebrate spring! Something about eating pasta primavera in the fall feels a little wrong. But enjoying it once the spring flowers start to bloom is just so right.”

Here are the vegetables that’ll be in season this spring, from old favorites to under-the-radar picks


Improving Food Quality and Nutritional Density

Human health and children’s health concerns are a burning issue for hundreds of millions of people. One of our primary arguments as advocates for regenerative food and farming should be to talk, not just about the beneficial climate and ecological impacts of regenerative agriculture, but also to emphasize the tremendously beneficial impacts of organic and regenerative crop production and grazing on improving food quality and nutritional density. 

Healthy soils and landscapes, managed in a regenerative manner by farmers, ranchers, and gardeners, give rise to healthy vegetables, fruits, grains, and animals, which in turn engender healthy food and healthy people. People need to stop eating factory-farmed meat, dairy, and poultry, not just because it’s cruel to animals and bad for the climate and the environment, but also because these products are bad for your health and the health of your children. 

One hundred percent grass-fed meat and dairy for example, and regeneratively-produced meat, dairy, and eggs are filled with healthy Omega-3 fats, vitamins, trace minerals, and other nutrients; whereas factory-farmed meats, dairy, and eggs are filled with bad fats, animal drug and pesticide residues, and lower levels of nutrients,

With the news that industrially formulated products make up 73% of the US food supply today, leading to catastrophic health consequences, we need to to change our modus operandi now and grow more real food!

Please make a donation, if you can, to help us move towards a Regenerative and Organic future!

Make a tax-deductible donation to Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit

Make a tax-deductible donation to Regeneration International, our international sister organization

If you are 70.5 or older, IRA gifts are a powerful way to support OCA and possibly reduce your future tax burden. If you are subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMD), making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) allows you to meet your RMD without increasing your taxable income!

Give from an IRA today!


You May Be an Using Old-Growth Tree in Your Bathroom

Gerald Porter Jr. reports for Bloomberg News:

“Most toilet paper in U.S. made from virgin forests. With everyone spending more time at home, demand for residential toilet paper is way up. That’s bad news for the world’s oldest forests. Unlike the industrial rolls found in many offices and restaurants, the cushy toilet paper Americans love for their own bathrooms is made almost entirely of trees cut from virgin forests. Procter & Gamble Co. — maker of Charmin, the country’s most popular brand — has defended the practice in part by saying it plants a tree for every one it cuts down. It also pays to protect trees in other parts of the world as a way of offsetting some of its greenhouse gas emissions. But carbon accounting isn’t that simple. Forests store carbon in the soil, not just in trees, and that isn’t so easily replaced.”

Check this rundown of how major manufacturers treat trees


New Scientific Project To Explore Nature-Based Therapies for Improving Mental Health

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) reports:

“The researchers will examine the close interaction between mental health, green care, and environmental justice (including socio-environmental inequities) will be examined. As part of this, they will analyze the effectiveness of nature-based health care interventions. Nature-based therapies range from horticulture, forest bathing (Japanese shinrin-yoku), to any activity that takes place in contact with nature and is specifically designed as a therapy, to promote the cure of an illness or the improvement of personal wellbeing. The project will also review policies that currently promote equality in mental health and environmental sustainability.

In addition to nature-based therapies, the researchers recognize two other types of green care such as contact with nature in daily life (e.g. the existence of green and blue infrastructures for contemplation and walking) or nature-based health promotion (active interaction with greenery, such as gardening and conservation).”

Read about how this project could play a fundamental role in shaping healthy, just, climate-resilient, and sustainable communities


Changing How We Farm Might Protect Wild Mammals—and Fight Climate Change

By Ruscena Wiederholt, Civil Eats:

“Nearly a quarter of U.S. mammal species are on the endangered species list. Researchers say farming with biodiversity in mind may help stave off further decline.

Tom Farquhar planted several large plots of beneficial flowers around his vegetable farm in Montgomery County, Maryland. Once a conventional corn and soybean farm, the idea was to control pests at the Certified Naturally Grown operation by increasing the number of beneficial predator insects and spiders. And the method worked: “We don’t have too many big insect problems,” he said.

But the crop-free plantings have had another effect, Farquhar explained. They have also increased the number of mammals on the farm. Strips of trees, bushes, grasses, or flowers around agricultural or pasture fields can house higher numbers of small mammals than cropland. Additionally, the diversity of Farquhar’s crops and the chemical-free nature of his farm also attracted and supported small mammals, he said.”

Read about how they benefit landscapes, they disperse seeds, pollinate, and transfer nutrients across landscapes, supporting healthy plant populations, and they alter their environments in ways that enhance biodiversity