26 Apr '11, 6pm
Growing succulent strawberries that won’t cause health problems isn’t just possible, it’s profitable
Cochran says that he initially grew strawberries just like everyone else: using pesticides and fumigants. Then, in 1981, he was poisoned. One early morning he was standing in a field wondering if the cropduster had sprayed pesticides overnight. When the sun came up, he found out in the worst way: the heat and light activated the chemical, turning it into a cloud of tear gas. The next year, he was dosed by methyl bromide -- as, he says, are most of the workers who lay and pull up tarps that enclose the gas in the soil. Those episodes left him feeling sick and shaky, with temporary respiratory problems. They faded after about a month, he says, and he never went to the doctor or reported them to the health authorities -- it was just considered a hazard of working in the fields. But he didn’t want to permanently damage his health, so he decided to try farming organically.