An Apple a Day, Minus the Spray
An apple a day could lead to serious health problems if they are not organic. Green Promise reveals why.
Apple bobbing season is upon us. Let’s be honest though, it’s no fun to bob for store bought conventional apples. It’s just not the same. Freshly picked apples right from the orchard are the way to go. Since we’re being picky already, why not go all the way and look for an organic u-pick orchard? They aren’t as abundant as conventional orchards but they are growing in popularity. Just look up your zipcode in localharvest.org to check for local orchards in your area.
The search for organic appears worthwhile when it comes to apples. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not for profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health, apples ranked second worst for pesticide contamination with a score of 96, just behind peaches with a score of 100.
It’s shocking to find out that in Washington state, the largest producer of apples, the pesticide chlorpyrifos is sprayed in 58 percent of apple orchards. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America, chlorpyifos is a potent neurotoxic insecticide that can cause dizziness, confusion, vomiting, convulsions, numbness of the limbs and even death. Exposure to pregnant mothers and young children can lead to birth complications and long-term neurological problems. In 2001 the EPA banned chlorpyrifos for use in the home, yet it continues to allow agricultural use, which endangers orchard workers and their families due to accidental spills and airborne drift, not to mention the risk to consumers at the time of consumption. Washing produce with water isn’t enough to remove agricultural pesticides either. If it were, rain would prove to be a big nuisance for farmers. Petrochemical companies created pesticides that are insoluble in water so if you are going to consume conventional produce, you must use soap or a specially made fruit and vegetable wash spray.
In addition to reducing your own toxic load, you are also doing the environment a favor by choosing organic over conventional. In a study done by Washington State University on the sustainability of organic, conventional, and integrated apple orchards, researchers found that:
- organic systems had higher soil quality and potentially lower negative environmental impact
- organic fruit is smaller, but sweeter and just as firm or firmer than conventional fruit
- the organic system was more profitable
- the organic system was the most energy efficient
- the organic system ranked first in overall sustainability