21 July 2016

That apple you just bought in a grocery store is a year old

TL;DR viewers will probably want to speed-browse through the 5-minute video, but the concept is important.


  1. First, *Some breeds* of apples sold in North America can be *up to* a year old; these are not unimportant distinctions from the headline. Apples are picked in very late Summer and in Fall. Since apples do store very well, why not store those apples for Winter and Spring use instead of exporting the huge surplus picked in season, and importing fresh ones from countries which are enjoying their own picking season? That would increase the price and increase the CO2 footprint, surely neither a beneficial change.

    The video uses inflammatory language and tone of voice, like talking about "artificially" lowering the oxygen level in the storage rooms, as if it were possible to somehow reduce oxygen levels naturally?? It also uses the word "artificial" I think quite deliberately to create a negative impression of the process and result.

    And the videographer makes fun of stores for convincing consumers that a straight banana or bruised or otherwise imperfect fruit is less attractive than a perfect one. I think the shoe is on the other foot: it is natural to pick a less blemished item from a bin; stores are the victim of our insistence on pretty fruit, not the other way around. If we were more accepting of minor blemishes there would be a lot less food waste! That's one of the struggles that organic food producers have, reconciling consumers to accepting more blemishes.

    I can't comment on the SmartFresh process as I haven't taken the time yet to research it and form an opinion, but a good starting point is to remember that the word "chemical" is not inherently evil. Everything we know is chemistry at its root, and toxicity is always dose-dependent.

    I'm not concerned about a fresh-tasting apple that was stored for months in a cold room with lowered oxygen levels, and after I look further tonight I'll know better how I feel about SmartFresh.

    1. And how do you feel about eating fruit devoid of most, if not all, of their anti-oxidants?

  2. and this year is the off year for apples, too. seems like for peaches, pears, also.


    1. I agree; nothing tastes great this year. Pears are awful.

  3. My answer would be

    (a) We worry too much about antioxidants. If you eat a healthy, varied, diet, you'd be hard pressed to demonstrate you're short antioxidants. Nobody would freak out over someone who eats a healthy, varied, diet but doesn't like apples and so doesn't eat that one fruit. For example, not that Consumer Reports is any deep scientific source but this is a reasonable article: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/03/antioxidants-more-is-not-always-better/index.htm

    (b) What solution would you suggest? Only eat fresh apples, which means only eating them when they are locally in-season? Then except for 2 or 3 months of the year, and only in countries which have suitable climates and soils, nobody eats apples at all...which just means we lose out on all the other good aspects of that fruit. Or increase the incidence of shipping them to markets where they aren't currently in season? Clearly some are shipped already to satisfy markets with no local source, but we should be trying to reduce shipping, not increase it.

  4. A) "If you eat a healthy, varied, diet..."

    And there lies the rub- if you're eating supposedly fresh, healthy foods that are not really fresh, devoid of god knows what else of its natural contents, and then also: sprayed, injected and genetically modified with with god knows what... Just what the hell are we eating? You can scream healthy all you want- but it sure ain't "natural."

    B) We could start with accurate labeling so that people would know exactly what they're eating, something agribusiness is fighting against with every penny they can muster. That alone would cause them to initiate some significantly healthy changes in our food industry.

    Or would you also consider that "inflammatory language?"

  5. I just watched a commercial for Whole Foods. That's my takeaway. I'm so sick of these "Oh my God, everything we [eat/breathe/touch/see] is chemicals!" No crap, that's what I learned in 6th grade science class. Literally everything is chemicals. Please come up with a better term than this. It instantly makes me doubt your credibility.

    Furthermore, nobody seems to comment on the whole idea that, while surely some of these inventions (treatments, sprays, etc.) will turn out to be not great for people, this video would have you believe that the United States is chock full of crazy people running agriculture companies, just willy-nilly applying things to their products. As if the process that was outlined in the video was a cosmic accident or a hare-brained scheme cooked up by Doc Brown. I'd remind anyone who gets up in arms about this stuff that there must be studies to back the efficacy and safety of these things. And before you even say it, let me just refute your knee-jerk claim "the studies are rigged and not objective!" and say that the USDA and the FDA literally employ people who must have at least BS degrees (not BAs!) to review any processes and some that also perform on-site surprise inspections of production facilities to confirm that things are both researched and developed with safety in mind and that the resulting processes are followed. AND, by the way, those auditors are typically Federal Law Enforcement Officers, and they don't mess around.

    Lastly, if you want to live au naturel, just remember that you'd be sick or dead already if you lived that way. Turns out that science actually gives humans various ways to improve our health, even though sometimes the trade off seems to be awful, it's arguably better than a 50 year average life expectancy.

    You can always find something to complain about if you try just a bit.

    1. Yup, certainly sounds like you came up with the time to complain!

      "...while surely some of these inventions (treatments, sprays, etc.) will turn out to be not great for people..."

      Yup, so why bother?

      "...this video would have you believe that the United States is chock full of crazy people running agriculture companies, just willy-nilly applying things to their products."

      It does nothing of the sort, and I've never heard that accusation anywhere. These companies know exactly what they are doing, and exactly how it affects their bottom line, their only measure of concern and success.

      The studies for artificial sweeteners in diet sodas showed the production of numerous cancerous growths in test animals, those studies were suppressed and those carcinogenic chemicals (yes, everything's made of 'em- some good... some bad) are in your local grocery store today! The studies are a matter of public record.

      As for the legitimacy of "surprise" testing- just ask Lance. As for scientists and doctors conducting the testing... scientists and doctors also conducted- The Tuskegee Experiment. Look that one up when you want to preach the ethics of scientific practice.

    2. So you're saying essentially that one bad apple spoils the bushel? (Pardon the pun.) If one scientist *in history* did a bad thing, then Science = Bad. That's what it sounds like. Likewise, one bad process means all processing is suspect. I'd hate to live in your world. I'd be too busy worrying to live. The video looks to me like more frothing at the mouth about some perceived conspiracy. Sorry, conspiracy lovers, but not everything is a conspiracy, and in fact, most things aren't.

  6. If you want to be sure of the food you eat, grow your own.

    1. Or insist, with your vote and pocketbook, on healthy, viable options to: GMO Frakenfoods (banned in the EU), junk food and fast food.


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