Upon my return to Quebec last fall I started looking into possible apple orchards for the first time in my life since my days of being too busy and too cool to do the ‘apple picking thing’. I was disappointed to find that only one single orchard offered certified organic apples! At least from what my internet searches yielded. Just as a note, apples are among the most-if not the most-sprayed fruits in our nation…well actually in North America! They have consistently been a chart topper on the Dirty Dozen, an annual list generated by Environmental Working Group which enumerates our most pesticide ridden fruits and vegetables (see list below).
And we, as a public, should care about this because chemical pesticides have been proven to be harmful to human health linked to a variety of serious problems including disruption of our endocrine system (hormones and reproduction!), nerve damage, brain toxicity and cancer! We have only to take a surficial look around at the prevalence of disease patterns of the 20th and 21st centuries to get an idea of the scope of the negative effects our pervasive love affair (or should I say apathy?) with applied chemicals on, and in, food may be having on us. The use of pesticides on our crops has been justified by concerns for food safety, minimization of loss for farmers and of course, to keep produce consistent and aesthetically appealing to potential consumers, ahh good ole competitive advantage in the marketplace! Healthy and beautiful sells, but with regard to what we eat, we may want to consider redefining what those words mean because the ‘presentation’ of food comes at the potential cost of human welfare. The following is an excerpt from a 34 page report released by the David Suzuki Foundation that explores pesticide use in the Canadian food supply in comparison to other big producing nations like Australia or the United-States:
‘[There is] compelling evidence that Canadian regulations are among the weakest in the industrialized world when it comes to governing the use of pesticides and the potential impact of pesticides on food and health.’ (source: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/reports/2006/the-food-we-eat-an-international-comparison-of-pesticide-regulations/)
So here I was searching for organic apples grown in a toxic chemical free orchard, and as I was saying, I only found one. An orchard called Maniadakis, located in Franklin, south of Ormstown. Last season, I went with family and friends on a rainy Saturday and picked my heart out of Galas, Mcintosh and Golden Delicious which were then used to juice and bake I don’t know how many trays of organic coconut apple crisp! This year my research has again led me to the same orchard, as most Quebec farmers still employ the use of chemical pesticides (I use the term chemical pesticides because I am referring to the ones synthetically cooked up in a lab, and not natural pest repelling farming techniques) on their orchards. And although I am thrilled to have access to an organic orchard close to my home, a major concern is that with so many farmers using toxins on surrounding crops, and on much of our current food supply, many of our water sources and un-farmed adjacent soils are rendered collateral damage in the wake of this practice.
Chemical pesticides leach into soil, and percolate into underlying groundwater networks, which supply many rural towns with aquifer and well drinking water. We also do not live in a closed system where chemicals are unleashed in one area and remain fixed there immobilized. Pesticides sprayed in one area have been found to migrate to remote and unrelated regions of the globe. IE. DDT is found in the tissues of Amerindian populations in the Arctic…still! Furthermore, they pose long term risks, persisting in soil for decades after initial exposure. And as part of the ‘generation Guinea-pig mandate’ we seem to be living, the long term effects are not well studied, and although on paper we can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they do cause long term damage, we certainly cannot prove that they do not.
All this being said-I encourage you to go organic in the apple department this fall! I came across the following video about Maniadakis and organic apple picking in Quebec and wanted to share it with you!
The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)
Sweet bell peppers