With apple season in full force, and dreams of cider, pie and other fall favorites dancing in our heads, we wanted to know: is the crunchy fruit still a healthy pick? In this era of pesticides, does “an apple a day” still keep the doctor away?
Some argue no, at least when it comes to apples not grown organically. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that works to protect public health and the environment, ranks the apple number one in its 2011 Dirty Dozen list—the aka, never-eat-these-items-when-they’re-not-organic-or-else list.
And this list is based in science, not public opinion. EWG came up with the rankings after analyzing results from 51,000 USDA and FDA tests between 2000 and 2009. According to the study, 92 percent of apples tested contained two or more pesticide residues—after being washed. And as a category, apples were treated with 56 kinds of pesticides—far more than most produce. So what? Well, many lab studies point to the health risks of too much pesticide exposure. Even the U.S. EPA says pesticides can cause problems such as birth defects, nerve damage, and cancer.
All in all, it’s a pretty doom and gloom sort of outlook for the non-organic apple. So we thought, no big deal, let’s just buy locally grown, organic apples. Buying local means we save fossil fuels used in transport, and buying organic means we’re supporting biodiversity and public health by keeping toxic pesticides out of our bodies and our soil. Right? (more…)