Those apples look delicious right? They were for certain local. They were definitely crisp. I could not, however, get over the fact that they were so freaking unnaturally shiny. As part of my 20th 30th birthday celebration, my momma and I hopped on over to a local little spa for a few days. The eating there was certainly a challenge, but that's for another day. What I couldn't get over was how waxed and glossed these apples were. I just couldn't bring myself to eat them. Even though I knew how amazingly delicious they would be, I also knew what kind of dress this apple was wearing, and to be frank, I like my apples like I like my men. Au naturelle (read: naked).
A couple of years ago, when I first met Rich, we had a discussion about this. He was one of the managers at the resort I was working at in St. Lucia and I was endeared to him when he told me that he had grown up on an apple farm. I had visions of this cute and proper Brit, pulling on his overalls each morning to climb ladders and harvest apples. It wasn't long before I learned that he didn't believe in organic, that his father's farm grew dwarfed trees, and he argued with me about the waxing practices. He liked to argue about lots of stuff, and though I am not one to defend my opinion on stuff, I will argue when facts are clearly facts and especially when said facts are in my favour.
The thing about apples is that they naturally create their own wax for protection and preservation purposes. What happens in commercial apple farming is that after harvest, before the produce is packed and sent to the supermarket, it is power-hosed to clean off dirt (goodness forbid our produce has any sign that it came from earth!), which also removes the natural wax.
The catch here is that these synthetic waxes by themselves do not control decay so they are often combined with some chemicals to prevent the growth of mold. The Food and Drug Administration regulates the safety and use of these substances but do we really trust these government orgs?). "Extensive research by governmental and scientific authorities has shown that approved waxes are safe to eat. Waxes are indigestible, which means they go through the body without breaking down or being absorbed". That's awesome. A chemical that can pass straight through the body without leaving even traces of residue! (Oh memories of Olestra and the pesky little side effect affectionately referred to as 'anal leakage').
Grocers have the option of labelling produce that has been coated with a sign that might read: "Coated with food-grade vegetable-, petroleum-, beeswax-, and/or shellac-based wax or resin, to maintain freshness."
Now, here's the little kicker. According to Health Canada "morpholine is a solvent and emulsifier used in the preparation of wax coatings for fruits and vegetables. In the presence of excess nitrite, formed mainly from naturally-occurring nitrate in the diet, morpholine can become modifiedto form N-nitrosomorpholine (NMOR), a genotoxic carcinogen in rodents. While morpholine alone does not appear to pose a health concern, the main issue is whether sufficient NMOR can be produced by humans upon ingestion, to pose a health risk".
You know my take on such matters. When in doubt, keep it out! Now, please pass the lackluster apples over this way.
On Thursday, I'll be posting my all time fave simple apple recipe, and start searching your own, for a another fun giveaway!