Unlike pesticide-laden conventional food, organic produce is more natural, healthier, and better for you…right? Organic food does contain less synthetic pesticides. But the natural pesticides that replace them can also have harmful effects. For example, the organic pesticide copper sulfate is more toxic than some synthetic pesticides, and it can cause genetic mutations, cancer, liver disease, and anemia. No matter what you choose to eat, both conventional and organic produce can expose you to low levels of pesticides. Before you forswear all greens, however, bear in mind that low pesticide levels aren’t the worst thing in the world.
At her Science Sushi blog on Scientific American’s network, Christie Wilcox explains that a little bit of pesticide exposure can actually be good for you.
How do you get a tree that produces six or seven different fruits? Grafting, of course.
The process of getting a cutting of one plant to grow on the base of another, grafting is usually used in much more mundane contexts: it’s what lets farmers grow clones of an orange tree, say, with particularly succulent fruit, for decades after the original tree dies. The vast majority of the fruit we eat comes from such clones, since letting the tree mix its genes with another might produce a totally different fruit, much less marketable than the original.
But making a tree that fruits oranges, limes, and lemons all at the same time—now that’s a work of art. At Scientific American’s Brainwaves blog, Ferris Jabr explains how such fruit salad trees, also called fruit cocktail trees, work, and points readers in the direction of a purveyor of such wonders: