The Joys of Apple Picking

 My family and I went apple picking today.  I was reminded on what a wonderful low-cost activity this is for the family.   I think even my 7-month-old had a blast.  I remember enjoying doing this as a kid and it was obvious that my kids felt the same way.  If you are looking for something fun to do with the family, fall is a great time to go apple picking.

It is a great lesson for my kids to see where their food actually comes from and the family got a kick out of searching through the trees to find good apples.  Now I am looking forward to the apple pies, apple muffins, and other scrumptious apple desserts that we will be making from the mountain of apples we picked.

 My Recommendations
There are many orchards that will allow you to pick your own apples.  Many of those same orchards will have a specific day when they will do a fall festival which usually means that there will be some additional activities for the whole family.  At the orchard we visited, for $10 my daughter got to make two crafts, run through a couple mazes, play games, go on a hay ride, make a caramel apple, and sample some yummy apple cider and apple butter. 

The only negative to this wonderful activity for those of us that eat primarily organic foods is that it is difficult to find organic orchards.  Apples in particular seem to attract a lot of pests, frustrating would-be organic farmers.  I learned that this is the reason apples are one of the worst offenders when it comes to pesticide residue.  The largest quantity of organic orchards are in Washington, but that is unhelpful if you live in the east coast where there are very few of them.  I could not find one that didn't involve a super long drive so I had to look for an alternative.

We decided to go to an orchard that practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  IPM is not organic, but it is better than conventional methods as I understand it.  Those that practice IPM will try everything first and use pesticides as a last resort.  During our tour of the farm today, it was clear the extent to which these farmers go to avoid the use of pesticides and when they do use them, they target the particular bug that is the problem instead of generally spraying for every pest.  I prefer no pesticide use, but if you can't find organic, for me this was better than going to a conventional orchard.  So, if you find yourself in the same boat and unable to find an organic orchard reasonably close, an IPM orchard may be a good alternative for your family as well.

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