Sunday, May 18, 2014

Poison Apples

I have two apples in the fruit basket on my counter that look picture-perfect and spectacular. But I don’t dare eat them.

These apples came to me free from my local grocery store. I stopped in to ask if they have any apple boxes I could take away. Apple boxes are terrific for packing and I’m hoarding boxes in preparation for our move. The store said they usually shred cardboard packing boxes, but that I should keep asking and they will give me any boxes they have not yet shredded. They gave me two boxes. When I got them home and opened them up to remove the packing material inside, I discovered two apples. I suspected there were a couple of apples in there because I could hear them bashing around inside in transit. It was clear from the labeling on the outside of the box that these apples are not organic. 

Apples top the Dirty Dozen produce list for containing the highest level of toxic pesticides of any fruits or veggies. According to Forbes Magazine, the number one fruit or vegetable to eat organic is apples. (Hoffman, 2013.) Apples from around the country tested by the USDA were found to have as much as 48 different kinds of pesticides on them. One pesticide commonly used on apples (Paraquat) is under scrutiny for a possible linkage to Parkinson’s Disease.

They not only contain pesticides, but 80% of non-organic apples grown in the U.S. contain a chemical called diphenylamine (DPA), used to prevent them from turning dark while in storage. My poison apples are proof-positive that DPA works. They have been sitting on my counter for over a week after being bashed around in the box and they still look perfect. Shiny and bright green. Beautiful. Laced with DPA for sure. DPA was banned in Europe in 2012 by the European Food Safety Authority because carcinogenic nitrosamine was found in DPA-treated apples. (Source:

Only 6% of apple farms in the U.S. are organic. If there was more demand for organic apples then more farms would convert to organic. This would not only be safer for consumers but also for the farmworkers exposed to the toxins sprayed on non-organic apples. Apples grow in all 50 states, so a conversion to organic apple orchards would have a widespread positive impact. Hoffman (Forbes, 2013) writes:  “If only a quarter of the public switched to buying and eating organic apples, more than $7 billion a year would be generated to support local organic farming.” Organic apples are not significantly more expensive than conventional apples at the grocery store if you don’t mind eating whichever variety is the least expensive at any given time (often depending on the season).
I feel like Snow White who opened the front door to the evil witch with a basket containing these two toxin-laced apples bouncing around in it. Obviously I don’t plan to eat my free apples. I might keep them to see how long they last before they begin to turn brown. Scary. The best use for these apples is decorative, like plastic fruit. They will hold up for weeks and provide an attractive decoration in my kitchen fruit basket as we continue to show our house to prospective buyers.

Pondering these poison apples, I have strengthened my resolve to complete my nutrition education and launch my new career as a nutrition consultant. If our systems collapse, no one will need a grant writer, but everyone will need food. Knowing how to grow and cook food, knowing how to prepare acorns to make them edible, knowing how to eat – those are skills that will serve me well in many a futuristic scenario. They serve me well in our present-day good-times scenario right now. I don’t want to leave that thought without saying that good storytellers are needed in future scenarios just as much as good food. There are many ways to nourishment, to feeding the spirit. I’m sticking with stories and organic apples.

Ron took a photo of the apples after he read this post. Here it is, if you want to see the beasts.

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