Berry, Berry Clean

A close-up of fresh strawberries.

Maybe you saw one of the viral videos about soaking strawberries and maybe it grossed you out, too. If you didn’t, I’ll give you the Max Haines version.

Max, the late, legendary true-crime writer once told me that it was his goal to write accurate stories without so much gore that it would put someone off their lunch. I’ve never forgotten that. So, with a nod to Max, here’s my description. The videos show strawberries ejecting various tiny, live creatures when they’re soaked in vinegar and salt-treated water.

I love strawberries and I usually just give them a really good rinse. Sometimes they’ll get a bath if they look like they’ve been playing in the dirt. Truth is, we eat all sorts of bug bits and what we don’t know doesn’t hurt us. The US Food and Drug Administration is specific about what is and isn’t allowed. Here’s just one example:

An 8-ounce (226-gram) glass of orange juice can legally contain five fruit flies.

FDA Guidelines

I try to buy Canadian wherever I can, but on this day, only US strawberries were available. It’s a little early for strawberries at your local pick-your-own farm, but they grow year-round in greenhouses, of course. And sometimes they taste like cardboard. Right now, they’re not too bad. So, in order to find out what I’ve been eating, I plunked them into a vinegar and salt water bath.

A blue plastic bowl with big strawberries floating in water. A jar of vinegar and a salt shaker can be seen.

I stirred them once in a while and let them soak for about 45 minutes.

After removing them from the water, this is all that was left. I scrutinized the silt and found it was all seeds and dirt. Nothing else. I held the berries up to the light and nothing was afoot. These berries were in the clear!

The bottom of the bowl, through water, and all you can see are pieces of seeds, stems and a couple of leaves.

My brother pointed out that in one of the most popular berry videos, the woman was soaking some pretty skeevy fruit. They looked like aging rejects. My berries were in much better shape with just a bruise here and there.

My berry experiment or berriment has brought me to three conclusions:

  1. It’s smart to thoroughly wash produce.
  2. There’s probably nothing to be concerned about and
  3. Lots of experts are touting the benefits of eating bugs for real, on purpose and using them as a renewable, cheap source of protein. If we happen to down a bug or two, we can consider ourselves trendy!

I’ll leave you with a link to another viral video that had me sequestered in our pantry, folding and refolding the cereal boxes. It’s harder than it looks but you get the hang of it after a few tries. I call it Cheerio Origami. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Berry, Berry Clean”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I’ve always heard that about the strawberries and that the bugs nestled in the top portion and you should just slice them off! In Mexico, I eat frozen so who knows what I am getting :).

    I don’t buy cereal very much but now I want to go buy some just so I can fold them the ‘right’ way. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You won’t want to watch the videos because the berries in it are much worse!
      At least with frozen berries, you can be sure anything in there with them is dead! 🙂

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