Many people I speak with, including my own clients are unhappy when fresh produce goes bad in a few days. I’m curious if anyone remembers or has asked a parent or grandparent how long food lasted 20 years ago. Produce is waxed to increase shelf life and make it appear shiny and oh so visually appealing. Some foods like strawberries and tomatoes and injected to enhance color and shelf life, taking away from its natural taste. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to food I know that I would prefer a better tasting tomato rather than a visually attractive one that I can keep in my fridge for 12 days. “But it says organic” is the next argument I get. Apparently labeling food “organic” means that it cannot possibly be sprayed or waxed to keep on shelves longer in order for the grocer to make a profit. No, why would any grocer want to make a profit or save money by not having to order more produce?!
For those of you that don’t know, when I say waxed I mean like you would wax your car. Produce is waxed with petroleum, beeswax, and even carnauba wax. Never fear, all waxes applied to the fruits and vegetables that we feed our families must always pass an inspection done by our trustworthy FDA. The FDA claims that these waxes are “indigestible” and therefore causes us no harm because they just magically float around, and never get absorbed by our bodies. In other words putting carnauba wax into our mouths and eating it will never have any type of effect on our bodies. I wouldn’t want to eat anything that my body couldn’t digest anyway, informing that this chemical is indigestible doesn’t sell me on consuming it. Chemicals used to make sunblock that we put on our skin and do not digest can have damaging effects to our endocrine system (hormones). But wax being internally ingested does absolutely nothing?! See the direction I’m going in here?
Wax on our produce can be removed, after all the FDA assures us that it is “a tiny amount” being used. Perhaps a quick rinse under running water would do it or perhaps not. It is more like a 6 to 7 step process to remove wax from fruits and vegetables. It requires 2 large bowls, a vegetable brush, vinegar or lemon juice, and baking soda in case the vinegar or lemon juice just isn’t enough to remove the “tiny amount”. Even after the soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing, it is still recommended to use a towel to scrub off any remaining wax. I know for most people this is 6 or 7 steps too many. Furthermore, after these many steps there is no guarantee that all the wax will be removed.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that buying natural produce (even if it means a few times a week) is a much better option, please read on. Most waxes contain preservatives and fungicides, yes fungicides. Up to 18; if not more, fungicides fall safely under the FDA’s guideline known as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). These same fungicides are also recognized as “probable carcinogens” to humans. We live in a world where carcinogens are deemed generally safe!
I hope that you will strongly reconsider buying produce that you know has been waxed. I hope that this little bit of information has maybe lit the fire under some of you and causes you to dig deeper and educate yourselves. Buying natural produce means that you would shop more than once a week if you cook everyday. In my opinion, a couple extra trips to a local farm or farmers market is absolutely fine. Especially if it means that myself and my family will not be consuming wax, preservatives, and fungicides.