It’s strawberry season, at least for those of us who live in the temperate western or southern regions of the United States. But before you rush out to snatch up a flat of the sweet-smelling jewels from the stand on the corner, keep in mind that strawberries rank sixth on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, a list of the twelve most-contaminated fruits and vegetables. Researchers found a total of thirty-eight pesticides on all the strawberries tested–up to eight different pesticides on a single strawberry alone. And despite the widespread publicity a few years ago regarding the phase out of methyl bromide, it is still being used on strawberries under critical-use exemptions.
It’s easy to assume that the berries being sold by the roadside are safer than the ones under the bright lights of the big-box supermarkets, but local strawberries are often just as likely to be contaminated. According to Sarah Williams of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, “less than a percent of the members’ acreage” is devoted to organic production, adding up to “a little less then three percent” of all strawberries grown by association members. This is tragic, especially coming from a state that is second only to California in strawberry production.
As if it weren’t hard enough to find a source for organic strawberries — Local Harvest’s Produce Finder is one way to hone in on clean berries — what’s a gluten/dairy/corn-free person to do about the shortcake? After drooling over forbidden conventional versions, I’ve finally developed a hypoallergenic biscuit to accompany those pesticide-free strawberries.
3/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup white rice flour
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon granulated beet sugar (sugar cane is closely related to the corn plant, and therefore should be avoided by corn-allergic individuals)
2 teaspoons baking powder (do not use conventional baking powder, as it contains corn starch)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon non-iodized sea salt (iodized salt contains dextrose and should be avoided)
1/3 cup Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil
1/2 cup soy milk (be certain the only ingredients are organic soybeans and water)
1 large egg white
Preheat oven to 350F.
In bowl (use a glass or stainless steel bowl, never plastic), use a pastry cutter to combine dry ingredients with coconut oil until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a smaller bowl or glass measuring cup, beat egg white until frothy and add soy milk. Pour into dry ingredients, and use fork to combine. Once the crumbly mixture is almost together, switch to a spatula to press together to a soft ball. You may need a teaspoon or so of additional soy milk to gather up the remaining flour mixture.
Using the spatula, scoop out section of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and shape into a rounded mound, about 1″ high and 2 1/2″ across. (Don’t use a non-stick cookie sheet — not only does it keep gluten-free baked goods from rising, it also contains harmful PFCs.) Yields about 6 biscuits.
Bake 15-20 minutes. Best served warm — break into smaller pieces and top with fresh berries and soymilk.
Image via Riza on Flickr via Creative Commons License