The Truth Behind A Shiny Apple
You know when you walk into a supermarket and you see those apples stacked perfectly, shining so brightly against the fluorescent light that you can almost see your own reflection in them? The ones that are so perfectly glossed that you pick one up just to make sure it isn’t fake? Well that shine is actually a layer of wax.
Now before you go up in arms about why wax is being put on our produce, did you know that apples actually naturally produce their own layer of wax for their own protection from insects and disease? It’s true, however not to the degree that we witness when we purchase a shiny apple from the supermarket.
After apples are harvested, the are washed and brushed to remove any leaves, dirt, etc. However during this cleaning process, most of the natural layer of wax is also removed.
So why do they add this wax? To ensure that the apple stays fresh, a layer of wax is added to the apple. This protects the apple during transport and also reduces moisture loss to keep the apple fresher and crisper for longer. Lets be honest, no one likes a soft, floury apple right? No thanks.
But should we be eating this wax? In Australia we are extremely lucky in that the 2 waxes that Food Standards Australia New Zealand allows to be used on our apples are plant and animal based. The majority of our apples are coated with Shellac which is a wax secreted from a lac bug, a beetle found in Thailand and India. If not coated with Shellac, our apples are coated with Carnauba Wax, a wax derived from the leaves of the Brazilian Palm Tree. However in many countries, some of the waxes still being used are petroleum based. The safety of the use of petroleum wax is questionable and is associated negative health effects have been highly debated in recent years. And whilst the idea of eating petroleum wax doesn’t exactly sound inviting, there is no reliable research or good evidence to confirm these negative health effects.
Me? I’m a big believer in eating food as it comes from nature in its most natural and pure form, so I’d much prefer not to eat the wax! There are a few ways to remove the wax:
- Lukewarm water an a light brush
- A mixture of apple cider vinegar and water
- A mixture of lemon juice and water
Plus by doing this we are also removing any residue of any pesticides and other chemicals that may have been used. Although I would like to note that the level of chemical residue in foods in Australia have been consistently found to be very low and below safety limits.
Other options include buying organic apples.MOST organic apples are not waxed. However I know organic produce isn’t always a viable option for everyone so you can also buy unwaxed apples from many farmers markets where you can chat directly with the farmer or grower. Also many good local fruit and vegetable shops or stands will also sell unwaxed apples. And if you’re lucky enough to live close to a grower, why not by directly from them.
Please please please do notpeel your apples! I know this seems like an easy option, however 50% of the fibre is located in the peel of an apple. You will also be discarding some essential vitamins and minerals too!