Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Poisoned Apples (and Berries, Cherries, and Grapes)

I’ve always been a fresh fruit junkie. I binge on a variety of it every day and (in recent months) the habit has intensified, as my battle with Hashimoto’s disease has steered me onto much more of a natural foods/macrobiotic path. However, I don’t buy organic fruit and keep reading things about non-organic produce that are starting to scare me.

Earlier today, I snacked on cherries from my local chain grocery store. Midway through the tangy feast, I looked down and saw one cherry covered with a layer of white film, as if it hadn’t been slowly and carefully washed 10 minutes earlier.

When it’s not pesticide residue, it’s a pest. Not long ago, I gorged on some freshly washed blackberries. One was harder and chewier than the others. A few seconds later I pulled a live bug out of my mouth.

If foods labeled as “organic” by national chain stores are supposed to be no better than their non-organic counterparts, do I have to get the majority of my fruit from farmers’ markets or a community-supported agriculture program to reduce the amount of toxicity I swallow? Or will a new report soon reveal how shady these routes might be too?

As of three hours ago, I’m scrubbing each piece of fruit I wash with a toothbrush, to scrape off as much gook as possible. Do you know how long this is taking with the cherries, berries, and grapes? But get a load of this advice about how best to wash non-organic produce:  I can’t bear it - farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture it is. 


  1. Hi there! Visiting from SITS. :) I agree that some produce can be really scary, and like you, am also a fruit junkie. I did a post on tips for going to the farmer's market that you might find helpful. I am a huge fan of them- and you cannot beat the fun atmosphere!

  2. I prefer farmers markets too. Although I do have my doubts every now and then. I guess the only way you can be really sure is if you're growing the fruit yourself. Until then, scrub away :)

  3. Well...don't be so sure about farmers' markets. You will notice that some booths are marked "organic," others bear no such sign. You will also notice that the organic booths are about three times more expensive than the regular. Maybe you avoid poison with organic, but bugs? Not so much. (After all, the purpose of poison is to get rid of bugs.) So, basically, you have a choice: poison or bugs? You can't get rid of both at the same time.
    Also...most farmers' markets do not operate twelve months a year (a few do). Even if they do function twelve months a year, the choice of veg and fruit is limited during certain times, such as winter.
    You know, in the old days, it was common that people had things like goiters and rickets (with the bowed legs), and other physical deformities based on lack of vitamins and minerals. It's not THAT long ago, because I remember seeing some of these things in my childhood (I am 67). They were due to lack of certain vitamins and minerals, sometimes due to the depleted local soils. Nowadays we have fruits and vegetables from all over the world in the supermarkets. While they usually lack the sign "organic," they were grown in a variety of soils around the world. This variety--which is shipped in all twelve months-- has helped the general diet in the United States quite a bit. (Unless, of course, the individual is pigging out on junk food while bypassing fruits and vegetables).
    As with so many things in life, all of this is a trade-off. I'm afraid that I personally pay no heed to organic due to the expense and, sometimes, the inconvenience. I just look for attractive, fresh-looking fruit and veg in a variety of supermarkets and farmers' markets, and then I wash like the very dickens. Thank you for the link, by the way, on how to add hydrogen peroxide for washing purposes. A friend once told me about this--now that I have a link, I think I'll try it. My friend claims it's not time-consuming at all. Just another good habit to get into, like brushing your teeth.

  4. Holy Hannah! And here I've simply been looking both ways when I cross the street!

  5. Fill your sink with warm water and add some distilled vinegar (not a lot, depends on how big your sink is). Let your fruit soak for at least an hour before you eat it. It'll clean off the residue and flush out the bugs. You don't use enough vinegar to affect the flavor of your fruit.

  6. With all the wax coke bottle candies I ate when I was a kid, I figure wax isn't going to hurt us, really... and if it is, we're toast anyway. I just rinse stuff off and eat it. My favorite with blueberries is to keep them in the freezer and eat them like little frozen treats!

  7. I think that organic, less chemicals, etc is good but I think that we have to get past the way supermarkets have shaped our perceptions of food. When we picture an apple we don't see the lumpy lopsided thing with scars that is the reality and is common. I think that the best way to get past this is to grow as much as we can on our own, even if all we can do is herbs on a windowsill or tomatoes on a patio.

  8. Jain,

    here's something I just recently learned. Every type of produce that a farmer grows has to be certified organic separately. So if you have apples, oranges, pears, grapefruit, etc, etc.... You have to pay to certify Each One. Even if you only have one tree of each. Full price. That's why the organic booths cost more. AND why not all the booths have organic signs. They may grow organically but it is against the law to put it on a sign with the certification. It's ridiculous.

    Also, when you are at the grocery store looking for "attractive" fruit.... the better looking it is, the further away from natural.

    At 67 years old you might say to yourself, I've been eating grocery store food my whole life, what's the big deal. Well, grocery store fruit ain't what it used to be. It USED to be natural, naturally... haha!