FOOD Too many strawberries are proving fruitless

The production of strawberries has become over-globalised, leading to poor quality fruit and pollution as it sells in ever-increasing quantities throughout the whole year, says a report by the SAFE alliance, a green food group.

About half of the fresh strawberries eaten in Britain are now imported, coming from as far away as California, New Zealand and Kenya, accounting for large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions as they are air-freighted to Europe, SAFE claims. Southern Spain is, however, the leading exporter to Britain.

Three-quarters of all the strawberries grown in Britain are from just one variety. And the great majority are grown intensively, with pesticide residues detectable - usually at extremely low levels - in 88 per cent of the fruit, according to the Government. Britain has just four acres of organic strawberries.

The report stresses that growers frquently use methyl bromide - one of the chemicals attacking the earth's protective ozone layer - as a pesticide in strawberry production.

How Green Are Our Strawberries?, pounds 4, Sustainable Agriculture Food and Environment, 38 Ebury St, London SW1W 0LU.