One Choice: An Organic Apple a Day…

christina headshot 2015Apples are one of my favorite fruits to enjoy as the air gets cooler and the leaves start to change, especially if they are hand-picked from the orchard or baked into a warm apple crisp. Even the variety of apples displayed at the grocery store catch my eye this time of year. I often think to myself, “Healthy and wholesome – what could be so bad about the produce that I buy at the grocery store?” As a new member of the Protect Our Breasts National Executive Board, I was excited to learn that I would be researching fruits and vegetables. After doing some research, I was shocked (an understatement) to find out about all of the pesticides that contaminate conventionally grown crops.

The first stop on my research path: Pesticide Action Network’s website entitled “What’s on My Food?” I quickly learned that apples have been found to contain 47 pesticide residues – 16 of which are suspected endocrine disruptors and 6 are known or probable carcinogens. I was overwhelmed with the exhaustive list of pesticides whose names I can’t even pronounce. Not once have I seen any of these on the stickers of the apples I buy at the grocery store. As a consumer, and especially as a college student on a budget, I want to know that I am spending money on foods that are beneficial to my health, not on foods that secretly (or not so secretly) contain harmful chemicals.

There are thousands of toxic, synthetic pesticides that are sprayed on crops each year, and many of them have carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, effects. Moreover, several of them have endocrine disrupting effects, meaning that they can alter hormonal mechanisms in our bodies. They can also break down slowly and bio-accumulate in fat. With this alarming information, I want to know that I have a say in what I put in my body – and the good news is that I do.

I don’t want my memories of picking and baking with apples each fall to be tarnished by the thought of consuming these toxic, synthetic pesticides. Knowing that I have the power to make a better choice to buy organic apples and protect myself from harmful chemicals in the environment makes the apples taste a little sweeter.

  1. Buy organic. USDA certified organic produce is grown without pesticides or genetic modifications.
  2. Pay attention to PLU codes. At the grocery store, fruits and vegetables are labeled with stickers containing a numerical code. Look for produce with 5-digit codes starting with a 9; this means that the fruit or vegetable was organically grown.
  3. Wash and peel produce. Although not a perfect solution since some chemicals are absorbed inside the fruit, washing and peeling produce is a good way to remove some soil and surface pesticide residues that remain on the skin.
  4. Avoid canned fruits and vegetables. Be wary of purchasing produce that is packaged in cans. Many cans have been found to contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor.
  5. Check out our NEW tip card. Find out which 10 fruits and veggies have the most synthetic pesticide residues on them.


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