Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's this about arsenic in apple juice?

Several people contacted me the day the Dr. Oz arsenic episode aired, asking what I thought about it, wondering what I knew about arsenic in apples.

A little history of lead arsenate in the United States:
Lead arsenate was used heavily in the early 1900s, but fell out of favor when DDT came along and became the new darling. And we know how well that worked out. Once DDT was banned in 1972, lead arsenate made a reappearance and was a mainstay for the majority of orchards until 1988 when it was banned in the United States. But unlike DDT, no worldwide ban on lead arsenate was issued.

When it comes to pesticides, we can follow a history of chemicals being introduced into the environment, then later banned once the dangers are brought to light. This is kind of how it goes: When a pesticide is banned, notices are sent out, and farmers are made aware of the ban long before it takes place. This gives them time to stockpile the banned substance, which they can legally use for a time after the actual sale and production of the product ceases.

The alarming thing about lead arsenate is that it doesn’t go away. Do an online search and you will find more than you want to know about soil and well contamination from lead arsenate. So if you’re thinking of buying ground that was once a charming and beautiful orchard, get the soil tested. Get the well tested.

It’s a given that most apple juice contains a certain level of carcinogens. After all, apples have been named the most pesticide-laden fruit in the country. All you have to do is look at how cider is made to realize that unless you’re buying juice from an organic orchard, the juice you’re drinking most likely contains toxins. Yes, apples are usually run though a cold-water rinse before being ground—skin, seeds and all—to make cider, but cold water alone doesn’t do a lot to remove pesticide residue. And apple seeds, in a high enough dosage, are toxic. Cheers.

Due to my book-tour schedule, the comment section has been shut off temporarily.

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