Friday, July 18, 2008

Worrying About Raspberries

Raspberry season is winding down. They grow wild all around my parents' property, and every year we try to pick the ripe ones before the birds can eat them all. This year I even spotted a squirrel picking some hanging close to the ground.

One day last week when the berries were just starting to ripen, my sister brought a girl she was babysitting over to my parents' place to help pick the berries. The girl is like 10, or 11, and we had a bit of a laugh because she wouldn't eat any of the berries before they were brought inside to be cleaned.

At the time it was amusing to us because we knew that the berries hadn't been sprayed with any insecticides, and besides that, growing up we never had any problems eating things found growing around our parents' property. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes are top on the list of things we'd pick and eat fresh growing up. We'd check whatever we had picked for dirt and obvious signs of damage left by bugs or animals, but the most cleaning would be a quick polish on our own shirt before enjoying the freshest taste you can get.

Sunday, the same girl was at my parents' with her sister and my sister's family for lunch. When my sister related the berry picking story with everyone who hadn't heard it. My sister figured that the girl was worried about needing to clean off the insecticide like food bought in the grocery store, but actually the girl stated that she was worried that the berries had been touched by actual bugs.

This got me thinking, we now hear about insects carrying diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. I don't think I had ever heard of those when I was a kid. Also, with the recent outbreak of Salmonella some reports said that the tomatoes could have been contaminated from bird droppings on the foliage absorbed by the plants. Scary stuff indeed!

It's sad to me when a child, or anyone, is so worried about germs and disease that they can't enjoy a handful of freshly picked raspberries. As for what we buy from the store, I hope some good comes out of this latest outbreak. Maybe this will lead to some changes to how our food is handled, and set up a way for it to be tracked.

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