There are two major driving forces in the world and these two forces impact every single decision you and I make. Many call these driving forces pain and pleasure, but at the root, these driving forces are love and fear.
Fear impacts every decision we make, and in some cases, fear can be the sole motivation behind our thoughts, actions, and responses. We may fear failure, rejection, judgment, or a specific outcome we have imagined to be uncomfortable, painful, or even unbearable.
There is a place for both negative motivation and its positive counterpart; however, it is important to be conscious whether we are making decisions based on true facts. Sometimes, we believe the noise “out there” and forget to look at the facts and the big picture.
Goosebumps adorned my skin as I thought about the lies I had bought into and how they had impacted me and my family. I was in a room in downtown Monterey, surrounded by brilliant people who are passionate about food and farming, all having a candid conversation about strawberries.
As I learned about how California strawberries are grown, I realized I was eating strawberries with a giant serving of fear on the side. I had bought into misleading information about what’s clean, what’s dirty, and how I should go about it. I hadn’t stopped to check the facts, to decide for myself where I really stand and what I’m really choosing.
As moms, we are afraid. OFTEN. We want our children to be safe, healthy, happy, but we focus on avoiding the worst that could happen. We worry about the “what if’s” and make decisions to protect them from what we have imagined.
I was invited by the California Strawberry Commission to tour a strawberry farm in Salinas, California, and to learn what safe fruits and veggies really look like. I was excited to about this experience and anticipated it would be a beautiful one, a delicious one, and an interesting one, but it wasn’t until this moment, in the middle of breakfast, that I understood the impact this sponsored trip would have in my life.
I have always liked strawberries, but you probably knew that. What’s not to like, right?
California strawberries are available year-round and delicious as a snack (by themselves) or in healthy dishes.
Clinical research suggests that eating just a serving of eight strawberries is good for the whole body, promoting heart health, diabetes management, supporting brain health, and reducing the risk of some cancers.
Strawberries are naturally sweet but low in sugar. One serving of strawberries has less than half the sugar of an apple and half the calories of a banana.
One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange – 140% of the recommended daily value, so you can actually fight colds by simply eating delicious strawberries.
Strawberries are packed with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients including potassium, folate and fiber.
Antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals in strawberries have been shown to reduce total cholesterol levels. Plus, the potassium found in strawberries can help control blood pressure and fight strokes.
The American Diabetes Association identifies berries,including strawberries, as one of the top 10 superfoods for a diabetes meal plan because they have a low glycemic index and are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.
A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.
Did you eat your 8 strawberries today? I’m sure these facts can help motivate you to do it. But then there’s the fear…
Consumer Research shows that even though we find nutritionists and dieticians to be the most credible sources, the popular media is where we get our nutritional facts and information concerning food. As consumers, we are increasingly concerned because we receive conflicting, contrasting and inaccurate information about the safety of conventionally grown fruits and veggies.
We panic because we don’t want our children to consume toxic food, allegedly “contaminated with pesticides,” so we stop eating strawberries and many other fruits and veggies, or eat it in less quantities, which is more dangerous in the long run because we miss out on the health benefits. I speak from personal experience, but consider this key finding:
Misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase ANY fruits and vegetables – organic or conventional. ~ Nutrition Today, October 2016
This 2015 John Hopkins’ study also confirms it:
Perceiving that there is an overwhelming amount of sometimes contradictory information about healthy eating could make some consumers defeatist about trying to eat healthily. Given the potential implications of competing messages about healthy eating, it is important that those who want to improve food production techniques and those who want to improve nutrition cooperate to create consistent messaging about healthy eating.
As I read these words, I understood that I must focus on science-based information, provided by experts in toxicology, nutrition, medicine, risk analysis, and farming, and only then I can make sound decisions in the best interest of my family.
I learned that for more than 50 years, California’s family strawberry farmers have exhibited a commitment to safety, the environment and their communities. In fact, the state’s strawberry farmers have pioneered global breakthroughs in organic, resource conservation and pest management practices – all contributing to improve safety and reduce environmental impacts. California’s strawberry farmers grow 90% of the U.S. strawberries and continue to invest millions of dollars in non-chemical farming methods, more than any other commodity group in the world.
It was an empowering discovery. Stripped of the fear-based messaging, I left that room with a new found freedom. We arrived in the strawberry field and I was in pure awe. The air, the view, and the people all felt like home. That’s where we met Victor Ramirez. His family has been farming in Northern California for generations and his passion and commitment for the trade is contagious: LOVE.
Love is a strong word for me. In Spanish, my mother tongue, “love” is reserved for people, not things. There are many words to express levels of love or types of love, too, so you would use different words to express that. But I can now say I love strawberries.
I fell in love with the sacred nature sights and the uplifting atmosphere. I loved seeing the farm workers’ smiles, keeping up with their pace as I tried to pick my own, and listening to the sounds of their music playing as they worked. Picking fresh conventionally grown strawberries and eating them without washing and without worrying filled my mouth with the most delicious taste, and my heart with indescribable joy.
I love that California strawberry farms create 70,000 jobs and that strawberry farming has given Latinos more ownership opportunities than any other major crop. I love that Latinos now comprise two-thirds of strawberry growers in California and that 25 percent started as field workers. I love imagining how these opportunities and benefits have changed their lives and their lifestyles.
I love that for more than 20 years, California strawberry farmers have funded more than $2 million in scholarships for the children of strawberry field workers. I love that many times, these recipients are the first in their family to attend college. I love thinking what these young people can accomplish and the impact they can make in the world because of this.
After the influencer farm tour, strawberries will never be the same. They will forever remain the symbol of love, the love that is possible when we dig deeper to find the facts, the love that shows up when we let go of fear, the love that helps us make empowering choices for our children.
“Perfect love casts away all fear,” and though I don’t love perfectly (or do anything perfectly, for that matter), I can be more aware of the choices I am making and I can let my imperfect love cast more of the fear I naturally feel as a human mother. You can also observe, study, and observe the choices you make on a daily basis, especially those around your mom experience and analyze whether you are cultivating love or fear as you make those decisions, and progress will happen.
Are you making decisions based on facts, not fear? Do you let love guide you to freedom? Comment below and share something you will learn more about before saying NO. So excited to hear it!
PS: group pictures by Kassie Borreson