If there was a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win, says Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.
Why? As apples are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful.
Kastel comments that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.
The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.
To be organic, apples must come from orchards in which no pesticides have been used. One major producer has launched a scheme to have as much as 1,000 acres of old traditional orchards registered as organic with the Soil Association in the UK.
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