It’s officially Fall, which means it’s time to take advantage of one of the many pick-your-own apple farms in New Jersey. When choosing the perfect spot to visit with your family, make sure you opt for a certified organic apple farm.
While fruit consumption of any kind would likely make any parent happy, apples are the single most pesticide-contaminated produce item available at the grocery store. If you had to choose just produce item to buy organic, make it organic apples. According to the Environmental Working Group, in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that said that children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’]potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”
One thing is for sure, children are eating tons of apples. In fact, they eat more apples more than any other fruit. According to a study published Pediatrics, they account for 18.9% of fruit intake among people ages 2 to 19 in the United States.
Alarmingly, up to 47 different toxic pesticides were found on conventional apples when the USDA tested them in 2005. This includes six known or probable carcinogens, sixteen suspected hormone disruptors, five neurotoxins, and six developmental or reproductive toxins. The environmental effects are significant as well, with eleven pesticides found that are known to be honeybee toxins.
Avoiding the controversial pesticide residue is only one reason to choose organic for those families looking to avoid genetically engineered food. Approval came earlier this year for genetically engineered apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised. The so-called Arctic apples — which will be available in the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties — are genetically engineered in a way to suppress the production of an enzyme that causes browning when cells in the apple are injured, from slicing, for example. While it will likely take a few years for Arctic apples to be widely available because trees have to first be planted and then become mature enough to bear fruit, it’s a good idea to start buying organic now. Because GMO’s aren’t required to be labeled as such, consumers won’t know if their conventional apple is genetically engineered or not. Organic foods are required to be free from GMO’s, so buying organic will ensure you avoid them.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture Organic Certification Program is accredited by the USDA as an Accredited Certification Agent. Businesses certified for organic production and handling have had rigorous third party oversight and undergo a yearly update and inspection. Certification is the only guarantee that products produced as organic meet the rigorous national standard for organic production and handling.
Keep apple picking as healthy as you can. Support your local organic apple picking farms!