Strawberries used to be a delicacy. The fruit is fragile, prone to disease and requires a very particular climate to grow.

But these days, you can buy strawberries almost anywhere at any time – including in Barrow, Alaska, a polar community with an average annual temperature of -9 degrees Fahrenheit.

So how did strawberries become so ubiquitous, and what are the consequences for farmworkers? The answer takes us on a meandering tour back to World War I, the Hawaiian pineapple fields of the 1930s and a savvy marketing campaign in the 1970s and ’80s.

DIG DEEPER

  • Video: A Brief History of the Modern Strawberry.
  • Read: The full Dark Side of the Strawberry investigation.
  • More: How a pesticide loophole increased cancer risk at a school.

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.