Apples must be one of the first images you associate to fruit as a kid. It’s the fruit that gets to star in more toddler and kid’s drawings. It’s the emblem of gravity. It is the quintessential fruit. Also identified with Paradise in biblical writings. Present in so many symbols throughout history, art, and religion, it was also very present in my house as a kid. Growing up in the northern state of Chihuahua, the equivalent apple producer in Mexico to Washington state, it was typical to grab an apple in the afternoon as a snack. The memories of the smell of apple pie baking in the oven will always be associated to my childhood.

But things have changed. Getting apples is not as easy as going to the grocery shop and buying any apple they got there. Yes, they look beautiful, they are bright red, or glowing greenish yellow. Exactly like the ones you used to draw. But that’s where the problem starts, they are too shiny, too perfect. How? They are coated with wax, and they are full of pesticides. The non profit EWG (Enviromental Working Group) has ranked apples, for a few years in a row now, number one fruit or vegetable (sometimes switching to number two to let peaches take number one) with the highest pesticide residues.

You may wonder how dangerous these pesticides could be. Well, they are associated with cancer, infertility, birth defects, neurological problems like autism or Parkinson’s, and endocrine disruption (think your hormones going crazy), among other not so pleasant conditions.

I am definitely not obsessed with buying everything organic. But with a few specific food items I do try to be very careful. Apples, with an amount of approximately 93 pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, have become part of that list. So, my neighbor’s apples may not be perfectly shaped, and they are certainly not glossy. But they are local, seasonal, and best of all, clean! We might not eat apples all year long. But when the season approaches, we are the first to knock on the door of our apple growing neighbor.