Our apples are safe and tasty

Published December 4, 2003, in issue #0248 of The Hook

I just read Hawes Spencer's article "Pulp Fiction" in the November 13th edition of "The Hook" and found it to be very well researched (a rarity these days) and necessary for the enlightenment of the non-farmer.

Being a 7th generation apple grower in Nelson County, our orchard purchases Cider from Morris Orchard, as we no longer make cider. The quality and taste of their cider is fantastic with no preservatives, no pasteurization, and no foreign concentrate. They use their own apples (and sometimes some of ours).

To use an old analogy, all it takes is "one bad apple" to ruin a perfectly good thing, such as the E. coli poisoning mentioned in the article. Once the media gets a hold of a story like that, then everything gets blown out of proportion, and it takes years for the industry to get back to square one.

Our country has the safest food on the planet. The FDA and EPA have more stringent regulations on our apples than any apples that are imported. Pesticides that have been banned in this country are still legal in countries that export apples to the U.S.

Why produce warehouses purchase apples from foreign countries is beyond me. We grow around eight million bushels of apples here in Virginia, yet 70% of what you see on the grocery store shelf are apples from Washington State. Virginia apples are fresher, cheaper, and taste so much better.

In closing, I would like to expand upon Leon Sheets' last comment, "The only thing a farmer can raise to make money is houses." Unless customers make a conscience choice and ask for Virginia products and the grocery stores demand Virginia produce from the warehouses, you will see more and more farms being sold. We can't compete with China's free labor force, no unions, no worker's comp, etc. We need to support our local economy, instead of sending it across the country or to another continent.

John Bruguiere
Dickie Bros. Orchard