Buying from local farmers market this summer had me feeling more empowered on what my family was eating and double bonus of supporting the community. I was excited this fall to keep the trend going and find a local orchard with similar values as our homestead. I’ve been getting more into preserving and was ready to try out canning applesauce along with making homemade apple cider for the first time.
Conventional orchards tend to spray fairly heavily to keep worms out of the apples, sometimes on a weekly basis. As someone who doesn’t spray their garden at all, I wanted to support other farmers with this same thought of reducing pesticide pollution and reducing the amount of food we eat that has been subjected to chemicals. I sent out several emails, messages and even phone calls to find what chemicals are used at local orchards near me. This was strictly done so I could research the chemicals and make the decision if I would want to support their business or not based on pesticide usage. My messages were simple; “Do you spray and if so what and how often?”.
What I thought was a simple request, the response I have received has actually blown my mind. All orchards responded yes they sprayed. That part was not surprising but what was surprising, not a single one replied with what chemicals are used when they spray. When one orchard would not respond to the latter part of the question, I moved on to the next. I finally started messaging point blank; “What do you spray your orchard with?”. The latest response was, call this number for questions. I called the number and friendly stated, I am trying to stay clear of certain pesticides and was wondering what pesticides you use at your orchard? After dancing around the statement I was told they did spray but it was safe. When asked if they knew what they used, the response was they knew but weren’t going to tell me every pesticide used and reassured me for the second time it was safe.
SAFE? What does that mean? Most candy, sugary cereals, overly processed foods are deemed safe but doesn’t mean I run out stock ip the pantry with these foods. I’m not upset over orchards spraying but about as a consumer letting me make the ultimate decision on what I find safe to put in my body. There are certain foods I eat that I know are not good for me but that is by choice. When I eat an apple, I want to know I’m making a healthy choice and not poisoning myself, family and environment with chemicals. Cancers, autoimmune diseases and illness are everywhere and people are starting to look at our food sources as part of the problem. Why the secrecy? If what your using is so safe, why not have an open conversation about pesticide practices on an orchard?
So here I am, looking at my newly planted orchard, wondering how we have come to the point of not being able to have open discussions about food and how it’s produced. Looks like I will need to be doing a lot more research this winter on how to properly take of fruit trees in hopes of having bountiful fruit in the future, free of pesticides.