Readers Say

Is it wrong to eat apples while you’re picking them? Here’s what readers said.

More than 800 readers responded with an overwhelming majority vote.

Russell Orchards in Ipswich, Mass. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

With apple picking season in full swing, Massachusetts orchards are experiencing its busiest time of year.

Dozens of orchards across the state attract visitors from near and far, and with many popular locations just a short drive from Boston, it’s no wonder apple picking has become one of the state’s most popular fall activities.

However, an often overlooked topic is whether or not it’s okay to eat the apples while picking them.

We asked our readers to share their thoughts on this controversial topic, and let us know if they believe it’s wrong to eat apples right off the tree while picking them.


The overwhelming majority (71%) of the more than 800 readers who responded to our poll responded with “there’s nothing wrong with it.” However, a significant number (17%) also responded with that “it’s totally wrong.” Some (11%) also answered the third option, “It depends”.

Below, see a sampling of reader responses sharing their thoughts on eating apples right from the tree.

Is it wrong to eat apples while apple picking?
No, there's nothing wrong with it
Yes, it's totally wrong
It depends

Some responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

It’s not wrong, it helps to taste test

“Eating an apple off the tree is not going to make a difference. You’re paying a lot to pick apples already! How would you know whether or not you like the variety you are picking without tasting?”

—Tracey, Quincy

“It’s accounted for by the orchard and prices reflect this practice. It’s the best way to decide which apples you’ll want 20 pounds of. My husband and I had this debate for years…but I gave him fruit from the tree and he ate it. From that point on he knew good from evil.”

—Millie, Concord

“Fun way to enjoy an apple! Most farms I’ve been to tell us we’re allowed to sample them but not to waste them. I think a good rub on your clothes will clean off most bacteria.”

—Carla, Pelham

“Eating apples is a part of the apple picking experience. You pay for a bag of apples to fill which is significantly higher priced than buying the same amount of apples at the store, whether on the farm or at the grocery store. The price you pay for apple picking should automatically include the experience of tasting the apples as well.”

—Megan, Reading

“Look at all the apples wasted rotting on the ground! And I can’t eat one lousy apple off the tree? Gimme a break!”

—Stewart, Allston

“It’s part of the experience. I often times pick up ground apples too that are in good shape. As to help eliminate waste. So I feel like it’s a fair trade off.

—Jenna, Huntington, Vt.

It’s wrong, think of it like a store

“You don’t walk around a grocery store eating…you shouldn’t do it in an orchard. You are taking money out of a hard working farmer’s pockets.”

—Nancy, Hampton, Conn.

“Our apple farmers work hard to make a living. The fruits of their labor come at many costs, which were don’t typically see. We may think that biting into one little apple may not make a difference, but it does if so many people are doing it that here we are, right now, taking this poll over it!”

—Samantha, Newburyport

“If they charge by weight/bushel, it’s taking money out of farmers’ pockets when they can’t guarantee a harvest that will even break even in a given year. Grab a few and sample after you’ve paid for them.”

—Patrick, Scituate

“The farm is making a profit off of the apples they sell. You wouldn’t eat a bag of chips and throw it away before leaving a grocery store. This is no different!”

—Christine, Dedham

It depends on the orchard

“Some orchards expressly state not to and that’s ok. Others have trash cans out for you to deposit the cores in. You have to know and respect the rules of each orchard.”

—Bob, Natick

“Having one is probably understood, expected, and accepted. I don’t know anyone who can eat more than one. Taking a bite and tossing several is not cool. Stuffing your pockets or backpacks to get away with more than the bag is wrong.”

—John, Franklin

“I think sample few is ok and is part of apple picking experience. The farm does save on the labor and transportation but usually priced similar as the price in store so I figured it priced in some loss by picker’s sampling and damage.”

—Wayne, Andover

“I believe eating one or two apples during the day of picking is not going to affect the profit of the farm. However, I definitely believe that it is not healthy to eat apples that are most likely coated with pesticides and fungicide…especially for children.”

—Dan, Cranston, RI