Where Cleanliness Means Profits

Fear of pesticides ignites a squabble over the purity of produce

Do those luscious-looking strawberries lining the shelves at the local supermarket carry a dangerous amount of residue from pesticides? Consumers have long wondered, but had no guarantees of purity unless they shopped at an organic-foods store. Now the $313 billion supermarket industry is starting to seize on pristine produce as a major selling point and competitive issue. In California "certified clean" has become a battle cry among rival grocery chains. The pesticide fears have been fanned this summer by Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers of America president, who last week concluded a 36-day hunger strike protesting the exposure of laborers...

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