Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is every apple a poisoned apple?

If the tale of Snow White took place today, then it would have been much easier for the evil queen to get Snow White a poisoned apple. She could just buy an apple at her local supermarket and bring it to Snow White!

I remember visiting Portland, Oregon, with my family about ten years ago. Many of the apples grown in the United States come from orchards somewhat near there. As a treat, the hotel we were staying at had a bowl full of apples that guests were invited to take an apple from. I was so excited to bring one of these up to our room. I ate the apple. Then I felt sick. There was some sort of stinging feeling in my stomach, a pain. I got better and didn't think much of it.

A few months later, I ate another apple. I noticed that once again, I felt that stinging feeling in my stomach. I began to wonder whether I was allergic to apples, although this seemed odd, as I had eaten apples as a child and could still enjoy apple juice and apple cider.

More recently, I finally realized what had been happening. I was feeling this sickness from the apples not because of the apples themselves, but because of the pesticides sprayed on them.

Pesticide residues sometimes stay on apples after you buy them, and they can even sometimes leech into the skin. The same holds for fruits such as peaches. Grapes are another fruit that tend to have high pesticide amounts, as their smaller size means a larger surface area of fruit must be sprayed per volume of fruit.

While apples, peaches, and grapes are often the worst culprits with pesticide poisoning, other fruits can be left with such residues as well. Sometimes even washing them and drying them thoroughly isn't enough to stop yourself from being poisoned. So what do we do then?

Some people came up with the idea of organic farming. The idea is to use less of these harsh, chemical pesticides when farming fresh fruits and vegetables. The problem is, however, that organic certifications by the government are sometimes not genuine. Can we really trust an "organic" piece of produce to be organic? Or is somebody just trying to use that label to get more money out of us?

To make matters worse, some organic produce still contain pesticides. While pesticide-sprayed organic produce is in a firm minority, one must still wonder: are those pesticides used by those organic farmers safe? They tend to be natural pesticides, but then again, just because it comes from nature does not mean that it is harmless to us. What about the cyanide in peach or plum pits? That's a totally natural toxin, yet it still can cause illness or even death to people who consume significant quantities of it.

In a world where most of the food at a grocery store has been coated in high fructose corn syrup or processed sugar or preservatives, one would think that the produce section of the store would be a welcome relief for people just looking for nutritious food. Yet the very foods that should be healing most of our diet-based problems may only make us even more ill because of the pesticides in or on them.

The pesticides do a great job of killing the pests. They do such a great job that they gradually kill us, too!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!


  1. You are such a fantastic blogger. If it weren't so darned expensive, I'd switch to all organic produce and only buy it at Whole Foods. Alas, I'm not made of money so I still buy non-organic stuff. But I try to wash as much "ick" off of my fruits as possible. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Liked this post. It was creative and well-written. You should submit it to a newspaper and see if they'll post it in the Editorial section.