Apples top the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” listing of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables for 2013. The self-styled advocate for stricter pesticide controls references a recent USDA report that showed up to 98 percent of apples tested harbored residues of at least one pesticide.
(image via: Savannah Barr)
Did you know there really is a Poison Apple? Solanum aculeastrum, a poisonous nightshade species native to Africa, is also known as the Bitter Apple, Soda Apple, and Goat Apple. Not related to true apples, Poison Apple berries contain high levels of solanine, the same toxic alkaloid found in another member of the nightshade family, the potato. Full credit to Flickr user Savannah Barr (savvymercury) for the exquisite image above.
Grapes are grown for direct consumption (so-called “table grapes”), for juice and for wine but no matter what they’re grown for, the fragile, thin-skinned fruit is protected from pests and molds by a varied range of pesticides and fungicides. A 2012 study by CVUA Stuttgart in Germany found that 98% of grapes sampled showed at least residual amounts of these chemicals. Though 89% showed levels below the minimum regulated levels (MRL) allowed by the EU, eating such grapes still means ingesting these chemicals.
Strawberries grow close to the ground and therefore are more vulnerable to damage by insects and rodents. To counteract this, farmers apply a host of pesticides and fumigants to strawberry plants. One such fumigant, Methyl Bromide, has been banned as it has been identified as damaging to the Earth’s protective atmospheric ozone layer.
Its replacement, Methyl Iodide, was approved in 2010 by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation notwithstanding documented research showing it can cause cancer in rats and mice. Health activists didn’t give up the fight, however, and March of 2012 the manufacturer of agricultural Methyl Iodide, Arysta LifeScience Corp. of Japan, voluntarily canceled its registration to sell the pesticide within the state of California. Where do YOUR strawberries come from?