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Don't take my strawberries! (Are Strawberries Gluten-Free when Grown in Wheat Straw?)

 I have been reading articles that say that people with celiac shouldn't consume strawberries due to the fact that they are grown in straw. I picked strawberries with my children yesterday and I asked the local grower what type of straw

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they used and sure enough it was wheat straw. I have eaten strawberries and had not had a reaction, but after knowing this, I didn't eat any of the ones that we picked. I intend to look into this situation and I will keep you posted as to what I find out.

As always, welcomes your comments (see below).

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24 Responses:

Rich Willetts

said this on
15 Jun 2008 7:12:46 PM PST
Hi there I was diagnosed only last money with celiac. I am having a tough time mentally with it all at the moment. I have been really careful since I found out. However, Saturday and Sunday I ate some fresh strawberries. On Saturday I had the familiar stomach ache and also on Sunday. I just could not think what I had eaten then I saw your article, its the strawberries. So yet another item I cannot eat. Please tell me this gets better. Also, someone told me I that I should stay away from Dairy product or at least stick to 1% milk, is this true? Thanks.

Kim McGowan

said this on
06 Nov 2009 3:47:40 PM PST
I hope that a few months into your diagnosis you are settled in to the fact that it isn't so bad. I know how overwhelming it is at first. Give it a year and things will look a little better to you. I can give you a few tips that have helped me get by. Make your own bread. I usually bake a loaf a month, slice it into sandwich size pieces and store it in the freezer two at a time. It comes in very handy. As far as the Dairy is concerned, the only reason to avoid dairy is if it bothers you. I had a lot of problems with dairy and actually was diagnosed lactose intolerant until the avoidance of dairy no longer helped. When I was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue the doctor told me that the intolerance to dairy was due to the celiac and that when I went on the diet, it would go away. Sure enough, it is gone. I can eat dairy all I want. I hope this helps and wish you luck.


said this on
22 Jun 2008 2:57:57 AM PST
It gets better, I promise. It honestly just takes time, knowledge of the disease, love, and support from friends and family. I found out 3 years ago and still have a hard time every once in awhile. It gets better, but you learn so much. Don't forget though sometimes you do mess up and eat something you shouldn't but that just teaches you the next time. The milk thing is also true. A lot of people with celiac are also lactose intolerant. I have found that to be true in my case but my roommate, who also has celiac, is not. It is just case by case. I would stay away from milk for awhile until you know you are eating whats right, then slowly add it back to your diet and see if you have a reaction. I've learned so much in 3 years and wish I had had someone to ask questions.


said this on
25 Jun 2008 4:53:42 PM PST
Strawberry replies quite interesting. Have been unable to pick or eat them for 20 years. Get welts on hands and terrible stomach pain. I now believe my body was trying to tell me something and I could not recognize what problem might be. Have been on celiac diet for only 5 days and am symptom free. Also was diagnosed as lactose intolerant 1 year ago. Good luck to all who are finding themselves on this new diet adventure! This website is extremely helpful and straightforward.


said this on
25 Jun 2008 6:02:04 PM PST
It's my understanding that the villi that are destroyed by gluten are what make the enzyme which allows us to digest milk. If you have celiac and are just starting the diet, you may be milk intolerant UNTIL your intestines heal. I've read that this can take 6 months or more, depending on the severity of your intestinal damage, and that once you are healed you may find you are once again able to tolerate milk without any problems. Hope this helps.


said this on
30 Jun 2008 4:09:05 PM PST
I guess being almost 8 years into this type of eating has allowed me to heal I have no trouble with strawberries. However I can truly sympathize with each and every one who is having trouble.

You want to know what is worse than having celiac/gluten intolerance? It is when you think you are having a good meal and then have symptoms again. This time due to the caterer's somehow causing the chicken at the company picnic to be a poison. Only after talking with many others at work did I discover it wasn't my normal digestive problems, but it was the chicken that actually made me violently ill.

I talked with one of the supervisory people and told them that not only had I become ill, but numerous others. Hope they do not use that caterer again. I don't mind making a mistake and then suffering half as much as I mind having food available that should be gluten free and later having worse reactions than normal. Sure did hurt.


said this on
01 Jul 2008 6:45:50 AM PST
Thanks for the tip on strawberries. I didn't know about it. I was disgnosed two years ago and I am still having a hard time with my stomach. I try real hard to follow the diet. I have found that there is plenty to eat and even many restaurants that will provide me with the proper food but that good old stomach still gives me a bad time now and them. Good luck.


said this on
04 Jul 2008 9:06:03 AM PST
Any scientific studies done on wheat contamination from mulch?A quick search and I see that it's a generally popular mulch, used for other crops, too (raspberries and soybeans were two mentioned). I do sometimes experience telltale symptoms after strawberries but had convinced myself that it must have been something else. Having just read year blog, I am wishing I saw this earlier because I taught a Gluten Free cooking class a couple of days ago and featured strawberry tarts.


said this on
15 Jul 2008 9:27:20 PM PST
Thanks for the info. I have been gluten-free for about 1 & half years, after suffering for 40+ years. Very dramatic recovery, but still tweaking the details. I have been experiencing lots of nerve pain lately, after relief and have not been able to identify the source. Since strawberries are in season, now and there are sales everywhere, I think this is a possible source.


said this on
24 Jul 2008 8:29:16 AM PST
I was diagnosed 13 years ago with diverticulitis. as it turns out 6 months ago I found out it was really celiac. The strawberries still give me issues, but is it worth the pain for the temporary pleasure of the fruit? There are other fruits you can enjoy as a substitute.


said this on
25 Jul 2008 1:28:05 PM PST
Hey I was wondering if my allergy to soy would be the same I am a huge case and I am very frustrated with the whole thing. My friends are very supportive but its very hard when its not just me but my daughter too. We have both had the celiac blood test and came back positive but I am still in the dark about things even after reading all the info...I am allergic to so much including bananas, soy, sourdough turns to whiskey in my stomach (diagnosed at 2) milk/lactose intolerant, I have what they have called staph/strep bumps that are under my arms and go down my sides and the underside of my arm, on my face (resembles acne) and big painful blisters on the inside of my thighs I can't seem to keep off weight at all no matter how active I am. Has anyone else dealt with this I would sure like to see I am not a crazy hypochondriac


said this on
26 Jul 2008 5:19:31 AM PST
I don't know, but would think that the gluten would not travel through the ground into the strawberry. I've been celiac for 5 yrs + and never had a reaction to strawberries. If I eat anything with gluten, I break out with Dermatitis Herpetiformis within 36 hours, and strawberries on gluten free white cake every chance I can. You just have to read every label, and realize that being human we all make mistakes.

marj vetter

said this on
02 Aug 2008 9:25:32 AM PST
The gluten is contained in the kernel of the grain, not in the straw. Just shows how far we've moved from rural roots.


said this on
03 Apr 2011 8:18:28 AM PST
Very good point. I use wheat straw on my organic garden and never have any problems. The gluten is the protein source found in the kernal, not the straw. I mulch my strawberries with this straw and never have any reaction.


said this on
25 Aug 2008 2:04:26 PM PST
I have had celiac sprue since 2000 and it was very hard for me at first... Now its second nature to me and I only have problems when I see my hubby eating something I can't get on the gluten free mall, but I am doing real good... I never knew that strawberries were grown in straw, and I eat them all the time, plus I haven't had any problems with them... I hope you find out more information on the strawberry situation, they are my favorite fruit, plus watermelon, grapes and peaches... Hope you all have a wonderful gluten free life... Stay gluten free...


said this on
31 Oct 2008 6:12:44 AM PST
My 4 year old daughter attends a school that has a lot of gluten sensitive/celiac disease children in it. Last week the Administrator bought 7 or 8 bales of wheat straw for the kids to play with on the play ground. It was a few days before it dawned on me that it was not hay (as they called it) but wheat straw. My concern is that during the processing/removal of the grains of wheat that some of the grains are crushed and that the wheat straw is likely to be contaminated. I also don't know what equipment/storage might be used in the processing of both the grain and the straw.
I alerted the administrator of the possibility of contamination and possible glutening of the kids because small children and autistic children might play in it and then put their hands in their mouths. I work at this school so even my job is at stake. I keep my daughter in at recess because even if she stays out of the straw the kids throw it up in the air and the wind carries the straw/gluten? dust so that it is inhaled. I am concerned about it getting in her mouth that way as well. Another concern is that children roll in it, come back in and my daughter has contact with them. She is still to young to remember not to put her fingers in her mouth.
She says she looked it up on the mayo web site. I haven't found anything there yet about wheat straw. She was talking about the minuscule amounts that would be on the straw. Trace amounts of gluten effect my daughter so this is not reassuring to me.
She has also not informed the other parents of gluten free kids that the 'hay' they are playing in is the plant their child's poison is grown on.
The thing is I like and respect this lady but she just doesn't get it.
Or maybe it is me that doesn't get it. Thoughts anyone?


said this on
21 Mar 2009 9:36:24 PM PST
I was diagnosed with celiac disease 20 years ago. Back then the medical community knew very little about the disease. I tried to stay on the prescribed diet, but labeling was obscure, and contamination was almost impossible to determine most at the time. Long story short, I have been very sick for many, many years. After having been extremely ill for a solid year, to the point of inability to even bath and dress myself or make it from room to room without assistance - I stick to the diet religiously. Nothing whatsoever could even tempt me to 'cheat!' I have been gluten free for 2 1/2 years now, and although I feel so much better than before, I still struggle with feeling poorly on a daily basis. And I still have severe stomach pain and or diarrhea every week. I recently had my stomach scoped, and the news was discouraging, to say the least. The doctor found that my villi, instead of looking like hairlike fibers standing on end, looked like cobblestone. I was still getting gluten in my system somehow. So here's the deal: If you eat at restaurants that handle flour, or make their own bread, or cook your food on the same grill as gluten containing foods, or handle your food after wiping their hands on a towel or apron that might contain residual crumbs of gluten sources, etc., etc,'re getting contaminated! And believe me, this disease might feel like a bad stomach ache, but it is far more nefarious than that! I recently read in material my doctor gave me, that flour particles can hang in the air for up to 6 hours after use. And since that fine, powdery dust settles on virtually everything in the restaurant, you cannot avoid getting it on your dinnerware, utensils, and eventually in your mouth. I'll be the first one to admit that this diet alters your life extensively! And it really, really sucks! But there's no use fooling ourselves. The bottom line is that the minute your body senses gluten in your bloodstream, an autoimmune response is triggered and the attack is on! I urge you to make every necessary sacrifice to take care of yourselves, because while we might be able to convince ourselves that we're safe going on that hayride, or eating 'gluten free' foods at restaurants or social functions - our disease is not so easily fooled. I learned the hard way to take this disease seriously, and I almost died because of it. So I'm not taking any chances. Also, remember not to drink or eat after anyone who isn't gluten free. Additionally, after talking with my gastro recently, my husband and I were advised of something that had not occurred to us previously. Kissing! So now, regrettably, we don't kiss unless he's taken every precaution to ensure that his mouth is gluten free. I have also been advised to use gluten free soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and lotions. While it is true that gluten molecules are too large to be absorbed into the skin, the risk lies in touching your face, hair or skin, then rubbing your hand across your mouth, or touching your food with hands that aren't gluten free. Isn't this just the most ridiculous disease?


said this on
06 Nov 2009 3:15:35 PM PST
It is a ridiculous disease least by adhering to a gluten-free diet we can become well. Although not easy and well stated above!


said this on
06 Mar 2010 11:26:04 AM PST
Connie, thank you for your comments here. I have been gluten free for a little over three years, but my situation is very similar to yours. I have actually had to stop eating eggs and dairy recently and for me things are getting worse instead of better. It is a frustrating thing. I have pain on a regular basis as well and though I am careful almost to the point of being paranoid, I really think that I am still getting gluten somewhere. You are right, the disease is never fooled, even if we are. Also, concerning the molecules being too large to get through the skin. I know that this is true, but somehow it does cause problems. I have a friend who sat with her daughter (a celiac) while she played with Play-Doh. She watched her very carefully and knew that none went in her mouth. Then she washed her and the play area meticulously. In spite of her care, little Clara broke out on her arms, the back of her legs and her stomach and had pain. She got rid of the Play-Doh and Clara cleared up.

I also agree that trusting that straw is not contaminated is not wise. I have found out that California uses plastic mulch instead of straw. Apparently in their environment, straw causes some white substance to grow on the strawberries - a blight, or fungus or something - so it is mandatory that growers use plastic. Plastic has its own issues, but at least gluten isn't one of them.


said this on
19 Apr 2010 7:43:08 PM PST
I was having 3 strawberries in my protein shake every morning and I was feeling very tired which is my reaction to gluten I never thought gluten could come from the strawberries until I found out in the internet. I stopped eating strawberries and I feel great now.


said this on
03 Apr 2011 8:20:39 AM PST
I am an organic gardener with celiac disease. I mulch my strawberries with wheat straw and never have a reaction. Gluten is found in the kernal, not the straw. Sorry guys, it must be some other reaction than gluten. Strawberries are gluten free, it doesn't come from straw, nor does it travel in soil.


said this on
01 Apr 2013 6:36:49 PM PST
Even if the gluten is in the kernel not the straw, you can't tell me there isn't going to be some level of contamination.


said this on
04 Apr 2013 1:01:01 PM PST
I have been gluten free for over a year. I have not been officially diagnosed by a doctor because I am not willing to consume gluten in order to be tested. I have found that I am extremely sensitive to both wheat and gluten in any form. Through many hours of research, I have learned that everyone is different and their degree of sensitivity is different. I am also discovering that I have a sensitivity to strawberries depending on whether they are grown in wheat straw or not.


said this on
10 May 2013 11:31:01 AM PST
It doesn't really make sense to me why the wheat/gluten is only a problem for celiac patients if it enters your mouth. I have noticed every kind of wheat, barley, or rye gives me trouble with more than my digestive system. I can't even touch it, inhale it, kiss my husband if he's had it, etc. I was helping serve pumpkin pie in my daughter's fifth grade class so that I could be absolutely sure that she would get her gluten-free pumpkin pie without any danger of cross-contamination. My hands started to burn, and my eczema started flaring up right before my eyes. I had to go get gloves just to touch the pumpkin pie! My older daughter invited friends over to bake cookies for the firefighters as a community service project. I didn't eat it, touch my mouth, or have anything to do with the cookies, but I was sick for 3-5 days. Before my youngest daughter was diagnosed, she went to a spa party where they put a banana, oatmeal, and wheat flour paste on their faces as an all-natural mask. The mom in charge noticed my daughter's face turned beet red, and she immediately wiped it off and had my daughter wash her face with soap and water. It took about an hour before the redness went away. I also recently had a protein shake with "barley grass" in it--the product was certified gluten-free down to less than 20 ppm. I called the company about it because it made me soooo sick. They assured me that the final product was completely gluten-free because the gluten was in the seed--not the grass. They assured me that they were very careful to make sure that absolutely no seed got into the product--only the grass--and that the product was tested after the barley grass was added. Well, my body told me otherwise. Also, I had been noticing a weird "hairy" feeling on my tongue, a burning sensation down my esophagus, and an flare-up with my acid-reflux when I ate strawberries. I couldn't understand it until my sister (also a Celiac patient) told me she was starting her own strawberry bed. Unfortunately, she mulched her strawberry bed with straw. It didn't even register to her that this is the stuff that is like poison to our bodies! I realize not everyone is this sensitive. My sister tries to say she's not as sensitive as I am. However, she is constantly complaining that she doesn't always feel very good. I think we have to do our best to take baby steps toward removing hidden gluten from everything in our lives. It will never be perfect, but every baby step takes us in the right direction toward health!

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