Apple (and plum) Picking

Apples are notoriously tainted with pesticides.

Out of all produce, apples rank #1 for most pesticide residue left after being washed.

Year after year apples top the Dirty Dozen list – a list put out by the Environmental Working Group ranking produce according to pesticide levels after standard preparation.

The latest data showed 42 different pesticides remaining on conventional apples. (Seriously, you’re telling me the apple orchard really, truly required that many pesticides?)

While those pesticide levels are considered safe by the FDA, I simply am not comfortable with it.

My solution is to buy organic apples when I can find them at a good price. Truthfully, I don’t buy much organic produce since it is more expensive, but organic apples are a priority for me.

We consume a lot of applesauce. I have wanted to find cheap organic apples and make my own applesauce – and take the kids apple picking. I quickly learned that finding organic apples to pick is tough. Peck and Bushel is a new organic apple orchard in southeastern Wisconsin, but they struggle to get a good crop. I cannot afford to pay their prices. Plus, they rarely offer pick your own. I started looking for the next best thing.


Enter Barthel Fruit Farm. We went strawberry picking there earlier this year. I checked out a number of orchards online, but few openly disclosed information about their pesticide usage. Barthel’s was open and honest about it. It was clear that it is an important issue to them. While not fully organic, I am comfortable with their practices.

Outpost, our natural foods coop store, carries their apples. Outpost really vets their sources, so I trust their choices.

Just for the record, I am a huge fan of buying local. Any local apple orchard is a step up from the regular grocery store! 🙂

Barthels sold apples by the bagful. You could pick any varieties to fill your bags. I ended up purchasing 3 large bags at $16 each. Using the ever-scientific baby weighing method, I determined each bag weighed a little over 20 pounds. That’s less than $1/lb for local, low pesticide apples!

Baby weighing method = stepping on your bathroom scale with and without a baby to determine how much your baby weighs

What varieties did we pick? Whatever the kids put in the bags. We started at Macintosh, but ended up with a lot of Pippin, Jonathon, Spartan, Ozark Gold, and another Gold type that I can’t remember.


Ethan in awe of apple picking. Sometimes my kids are such city kids! 🙂IMG_0678 IMG_0680  IMG_0685

Anna was a master picker! She could pick apples faster than any of us!


No, boys! Pick them off the trees, not off the ground!


The boys taking advantage of my picture-taking to pick more up off the ground. I have no idea why they were so obsessed with it – probably because I told them not to do it.IMG_0689

I loved how the apple branches were so low to the ground. Even Ethan could reach them! (Maybe this shows I’m a city girl, too?)IMG_0690

Yes, that’s Noah eating an apple. More on that later…


Ethan with a 20 oz Pippin apple!


Time to head to a new section!


Pull, Ethan, pull!


I love apple picking pictures. Fall is my favorite season – by far.


By this point, eating had become the favorite activity rather than picking.

IMG_0705 IMG_0708 IMG_0709 IMG_0714

We can’t forget the plums! Plums were sold by the pound. Understandable, since they were tiny and time consuming to pick. It looked like the trees were near the end of their season, so we were walking sliding through fermenting plums while trying to find semi-firm ones to pick. It was neat to have the experience of picking plums, but I’m glad we spent most of our time at the apple trees.


Amazing how many plums can grow on a tree!


Andy contemplating trying a plum. “Like, I’m just supposed to take a bite out of it??”


Hmm, I’m surprised I have a photo of Ethan picking plums. He mostly sat in the stroller eating at this point.


Go head Noah, eat all the plums you want.


Andy making fun of me after I told him to rub the plum on his shirt to get the pesticides off of it.  IMG_0723

Anna hiding eating another plum.




Andy all proud of himself for trying a plum – but obviously not too thrilled.IMG_0726

Semi-gross, but proof since his family probably wouldn’t believe it. 🙂


Andy took on the manly challenge of retrieving fruit from the tops of the trees.

Noah and Apples

Noah broke out in hives twice as a kid from eating raw apples. It was clear that the hives were from the apples – although it’s always possible that it could be a pesticide.  Yet he often ate apples with absolutely no reaction. This was typical for Noah when he was younger. Then when he was 3 years old, we noticed hi, obsessively clearing his throat after eating raw apples. Again, it did not happen every time, but it was often enough that we could make a definite connection. Noah’s naturopathic doctor recommended staying away from raw apples, but allowing cooked apples. While apples are definitely good and healthy, they have goitrogenic properties that do not agree with some people. Noah is one of those people. (The goitrogens disappear when apples are baked or cooked into applesauce) So we decided to keep him away from raw apples. Well, Noah had not eaten a raw apple in over a year. So when we went to the orchard, I was torn about letting him eat an apple. We let him eat one. He liked it, seemed perfectly fine, and did not start clearing his throat. Hooray!

Not so fast. About an hour later, he started clearing his throat. Even Andy noticed that “the old sound he used to make all the time”  was back after disappearing for almost a year.

So. Back to no raw apples. Noah cleared his throat repeatedly on and off for 2 days after we were at the apple orchard. His body clearly has a strange reaction to raw apples.

Honestly, it’s frustrating. It’s just so weird and nonsensical.

But it was a really fun day and I have cheap, high quality apples for making applesauce!


Proof that I really was there!


2 thoughts on “Apple (and plum) Picking

  1. I just love your pictures!!!!! What a wonderful family outing!!! Everyone looks soooo happy. I can’t believe how your family is growing up!!!!!!

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