I bought some apples back in April. They were Gala apples from Trader Joe’s, for 69 cents each.
Two months later, when I was packing up my room in June, I found two of those apples in the clear plastic bag they had come in…and they were as glistening, red and whole as the day I had gotten them.
I frowned and looked them over. No bruises, no cuts, nothing. They were shiny and gleaming, like Snow White’s downfall but better looking than even the animated version.
Now I’ve tried both organic and non-organic apples, and for the most part they all seem to have some sort of waxy coating. This is because wax allows apples to have a longer shelf life—and the only requirement for organic apples is that the wax be a non-synthetic type.
I didn’t know that. I also didn’t know that it is apparently common knowledge that you are supposed to get rid of the wax on the apple. Many people just peel the apple, shucking the nutrient rich skin for fear that pesticides could be trapped under the wax.
Again: wait, what?
Apparently some of the things that are in this wax contain wheat proteins and glutens, which can set off those who have Celiac disease—not good considering I would never expect that, and I don’t think many other people would either. This wax also apparently can vary from apple to apple.
(Images of the waxing process of Washington apples.)
Carnauba wax and certain other types of waxes are apparently okay. (It is also used on cucumbers, even though cucumbers have a skin that naturally provides resistance to bugs and diseases.) They are heralded as “natural waxes,” though I have learned that that doesn’t really mean anything—most chemicals we use come from some sort of “natural” source (rubber, glue, you name it!) We use products that contain carnauba wax every day—it is contained in things like car polish, cosmetics, and candy coatings. I’d argue that there is a significant difference between things that we eat and things that we put on our faces or cars, though nobody seems to have researched long term effects yet.
Depending on the type of wax, they are either digestible or indigestible. In the latter case, they will just pass through your body, but we’re still not sure if that means that they’re safe to ingest in the first place. Though apples are apparently washed before they are waxed to reduce the danger of trapping the aforementioned pesticides, you should still wash your apples.
This still doesn’t entirely satisfy me, though—how do you know what types of wax are on which apples, and what the hell is in them? Nobody is telling us—or trying to educate us. Sure, Washington apples have a website on their wax—and they use carnauba—but what about the rest of them? As a pretty average consumer armed with a computer, I am once again left scratching my head at the information void I am left with.
Now I’m not trying to encourage paranoid about every aspect of the foods we eat. But there are so many people out there who are content with throwing up their hands. “Chemicals are everywhere, and you just have to deal with them. If they were so bad, producers wouldn’t be able or ‘allowed’ to sell them.”
I don’t know if these people have ever heard of food recalls (check the one on apple juice) but people sell food all the time that they later realize isn’t good enough—and they usually only find out because customers get sick and complain or sue—occasionally even die.
What people don’t realize is that nobody is watching. No one is looking out for you to make sure that your food is safe, and no one is asking questions. We put blind trust in everything we see, and assume that the government will take care of it. Why would you trust someone else with the integrity of what you are putting in your body, what you eat? And why are things contaminated in the first place? The FDA puts out guides on how to minimize the dangers of our produce—but why has produce suddenly become dangerous at all?
I still like apples, and I still do my best to eat as many of them as I can. But when something doesn’t rot after sitting on a shelf for two months, I think that something’s wrong—and I hope I’m not the only one who thinks so. And while I admire efficiency, and the ability to store these tasty fruits for months and months at a time, something seems a little bit unnatural about that. Take it or leave it.