Is Wax On Produce Safe?

photo credit - xedos4

Wax was first applied to the skins of fruits and vegetables for longer shelf life hundreds of years ago.  Today, that tradition has drastically changed with a new generation of chemicals and compounds.

When you buy non-organic produce from the grocery store, you are getting additional chemical coatings.  The FDA admits that these edible coatings have been associated with a number of problems, ” [Produce coatings]  can result in tissue destruction and the production of substances that contribute to off-flavors and off-odors, as well as the potential for growth of foodborne pathogens such as Clostridium botulinum.”

To combat the growth of foodborne pathogens, antimicrobial agents are added, such as: “…metal ions supported in zeolite, silver-based fungicide, quaternary ammonium salt, organic monoglycerides, copper and zinc, benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid and potassium sorbate and propionic acid.” The list goes on….
These are in the plastic containers in which the produce is placed then filled with nitrogen and sealed, as well as in plastic films sprayed directly on the food.

The FDA explains: “Edible biodegradable coatings are yet another variant of the smart film technology, where a film is used as a coating and applied directly on the food. In the last 30 years, edible films and coatings made from a variety of compounds have been reported.…

Basically farmers spray a substance on fresh produce, which forms a thin film, so that oxygen levels can be limited, which slows down the ripening process.  

The list of ingredience used by farmers is a very long list but here is a few of the basic materials.

  • Lipids (waxes, oils, stearic acid)
  • Resins (such as shellac and wood rosin)
  • Polysaccharides (such as cellulose, pectin, starch, carrageenan, and chitosan)
  • Proteins (such as casein, soy, and corn-zein)
  • Common additives to these base materials include:
  • Plasticizers (such as polyethylene glycol, glycerol, and “other cross-linking agents”)
  • Antimicrobials
  • Antioxidants
  • Texturizers (to customize the film for the particular product)

The good news is that whenyou buy organic produce, you are getting more natural compounds – organic growers may use beeswax, wood rosin (collected from the stumps of pine trees) and carnauba (extracted from palm leaves). These are often combined with vegetable oil, vegetable-based fatty acids, ethyl alcohol and water.

It should be noted that wax is not digested by the body but it is possible that any chemicals added to the wax are absorbed and this is where the potential health risks lie.

We always soak our organic produce in the kitchen sink with a cap or 2 of Inner Garden™ because the Inner Garden™ culture will consume the outer coatings used on the produce.  

If you buy your produce from a local farm, they usually will not process their foods for lengthy transportation. This is why buying locally-farmed foods is a good idea and buying locally grown certified organic is even better!

Where to Find Locally-Grown Foods
If eating locally is new to you, rest assured that you can find a source near you, regardless of whether you’re in a remote or rural area or a big city. Here’s a list of helpful resources:

Another great web site is www.localharvest.org. There you can find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Subscribe to a community supported agriculture program (CSA). Some are seasonal while others are year round programs. Once you subscribe, many will drop affordable, high quality locally-grown produce right at your door step. To find a CSA near you, go to the USDA’s website where you can search by city, state, or zip code. http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada. http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms. http://buylocalfood.org/
FoodRoutes. Their “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSA’s, and markets near you. http://www.foodroutes.org/
Eat Local, Stay Healthy!

Article Sources:
FDA http://www.fda.gov/Food/ScienceResearch/ResearchAreas/SafePracticesforFoodProcesses/ucm091368.htm
Dr. Mercola
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/08/that-isnt-wax-on-your-organic-apple.aspx
Alberts Organics

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