Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This week the apple was named the most pesticide-laden of all fruits and vegetables, so what’s a consumer to do?
How do you eat an apple?
Should you eat apples?
What should you do with the non-organic apples you just bought?
Is it okay to eat non-organic apples if you peel them?

Everybody should know how to clean an apple. Let’s say you’re on a tight budget and you haven’t purchased your apples in the organic section of the grocery store.

Like radiation, exposure to pesticides is cumulative.

You can’t eliminate all pesticides from your diet, but you can cut down on how much you ingest. How? Wash the fruit.

In order the understand how to wash an apple, you need to know what happens to an apple in the field and after harvest. Pesticides are applied with a carrier, and that carrier is usually oil-based. Pesticides are horribly, horribly, horribly expensive, and the oil makes the pesticide stick to the fruit so that it doesn’t wash away in the first rain. Another thing to know: Apples are sprayed all season long, from first bud (to make them set) to just before harvest. Pesticides can’t be sprayed within a certain time frame, I think it’s maybe two weeks before picking, but I’m not sure about the exact time restriction. The final chemical application might be something called Stop Drop, not a pesticide, but a product that keeps the apples from…you guessed it, dropping. This can be applied two to five days before harvest.

After the pick. This rarely applies in small orchards, but you want to know what makes those beautifully displayed apples so shiny? Wax. They go through a wax bath before hitting the shelves. So you have wax and oil and pesticides. This is why water alone isn’t the best method for cleaning fruit, and why it’s best to wash apples with soap. The soap (in products like Fit, a fruit and vegetable wash) will cut the wax and oil.

So if you haven’t eaten an apple in quite some time and you want to eat a shiny, beautiful apple, wash it with soap and rinse it well. Of course it’s simply best to buy organic, but we can’t always do that. And I don’t know what to say about peeling. I’d like to know how much poison leaches through the skin. It would depend on the apple. A thick-skinned apple like a Winesap or a Jonathan might not have much leaching at all, but something thin, like a Transparent, would most likely have more.

Pesticides create perfect, beautiful apples.


  1. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the photo. when I was a kid I used to run on my street behind the trucks on Long Island that blasted out DDT. Decades later my oncologist said that could have been a factor in my breast cancer. Needless to say, I eat as much organic now as I can. Interesting post.

  2. Em, OMG. Isn't that insane??? The stuff we've been exposed to over the years, and how oblivious we were. It's amazing any of us are still alive.