A Halloween Fruit Scare

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide

    It all began so innocently: An ask of my husband to pick up some organic grapes for a healthy after-dinner snack.


    As per my usual course, I took a bunch of grapes still attached to the stem, rinsed them - and considered them ready to eat. I took them away to enjoy while flipping through the channels, my daughter popping in every now and then to grab a few off the stem.


    I became vaguely aware that one grape attached to the stem appeared to have shriveled up - so I took care to avoid plucking that one off, eating all the others around it. And I do mean ALL the others.


    I finished my little snack and, still wanting something to eat, took the plate with the now-skeletal remains of the grape bunch stem back down to the kitchen and began to forage for more food. In setting the plate down, the remaining grape - the shriveled up one - falls to the plate and I notice something funny.

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    The grape has legs.


    Oh no. Those aren't LEGS, are they? Upon closer inspection, sure enough: legs. But more concerning was the bright red hourglass on the body of the "grape." Which you have probably realized long ago isn't a grape at all.


    I called for my husband to come in and he casually asks "Is there a problem?" Uh, yeah, there's kind of a problem. "Well, that's a black widow," he confirms (thank you, Dr. Scientist). Well, I can tell you that my little snacking adventure officially came to an end.


    As we Google "black widow in grapes," I begin to feel funny - I think my lips are swelling, I say. My husband, trying not to laugh, informs me (the physician) that the spider is dead (like THIS makes it better?) and they are only dangerous through a bite. In fact, a café in Paris makes and serves a drink with a black widow floating in it, so it must be OK. Très chic, actually.


    As distance grows, and the dead spider is removed entirely from the house (and even the garage where the trash is usually kept), I begin to recover rational thought. And so I share my thoughts on enhanced organic snacking with you here:


    -Organic fruit, if you can get it, is healthier than fruit that has been sprayed by pesticides. Yes, the pesticides get rid of potential spiders. But if it kills off critters, do you really want that on your food and in your body?

    -Organic fruit is simply touched by nature - and that means spiders can hitch a ride sometimes. So when buying organic fruit that can't be fully inspected by the farmers/sellers (like grapes in a bag where something can be hidden deep inside), make sure you fully inspect it yourself before eating.

    -A dead spider can't hurt you (except for emotional scarring).


    Was I upset? Yeah, pretty upset. But I really can't blame the spider. And I really can't blame the store. And I won't stop buying and eating organic produce. But I will be darn sure that there's no extra protein in the vicinity next time I have my fruit snack.


    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.

Published On: October 22, 2013