We recently purchased bulk oranges from California where grower / producers are required to label fruit which has been treated in any way for shipping. From the label:
“Treated to maintain freshness in transport with one or more of the following
and coated with food grade natural resins and / or vegetable wax”
How to Remove Wax & Chemicals on fruit & vegetables
1.Soak in water for at least one or two minutes
2.Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to water to remove wax and probably pesticide residuals
3.Peel before eating
# 2 and 3 are my choices for purchased produce
Organically purchased fruit should have reduced amounts of wax (if any) and of course should not have chemical residue at all!
The Dirty Dozen List
Check out the sites “Bad Actor” and “Dirty Dozen” lists for toxicants and carcinogens on the Pesticide Action Network site. Imazil is on the PAN Pesticides Bad Actor list. The PAN site is useful in checking out any chemicals you may have questions about. A good place to start.
It is interesting to know what other insecticide, fungicide and herbicides are used in growing the fruit. Here's a list of the Top 50 chemicals used in California citrus growing in 2006.
This is an only one example of the wide usage of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides used on local and imported fruit and often it is not labelled as this product was. Unfortunately residual chemicals absorbed into the fruit cannot be removed so growing your own (if possible) or buying organically is recommended.
- An argument for dyeing the skins of oranges was that people don't eat the skin so it is okay to spray, wax, colour, etc – and this practice still continues. In the past, the dye used on oranges was Red Dye 3, which is a proven carcinogen which has been banned but have been unable to substantiate if it is still used in the colouring of orange peels.
- “What is zest?”
- Orange peel is used frequently in baking and sauces e.g. Orange Muffins
- A very easy and fun project is to make pomanders using oranges and cloves – also dried citrus peel adds a delightful fragrance in pot pourri recipes. Both are great gifts - and kids can make these
- Recently we purchased “organically” grown oranges as a comparison – they were twice the price, had a very thick pith and were just not tasty and juicy and in fact some were a little bitter. A big disappointment.
- We have purchased a lemon tree as an experiment to try and obtain a fresh citrus source
Links & References
- Phenyllphenol information
- Tiabendazole fruit and vegetable fungicide
- Imazalil fungicide
- Other countries such as Costa Rica and Ecuador use Imazalil on banana crops
- A novel idea –organic cleaner made from orange (citrus) peel
- Meyer Lemon Tree Wikipedia information
Information on waxing from US FDA
Why are wax coatings used on fruits and vegetables?
Many vegetables and fruits make their own natural waxy coating. After harvest, fresh produce may be washed to clean off dirt and soil - but such washing also removes the natural wax. Therefore, waxes are applied to some produce to replace the natural waxes that are lost.
Wax coatings help retain moisture to maintain quality from farm to table including:
- when produce is shipped from farm to market
- while it is in the stores and restaurants
- once it is in the home
Waxes also help inhibit mold growth, protect produce from bruising, prevent other physical damage and disease, and enhance appearance.
How are waxes applied?
Waxes are used only in tiny amounts to provide a microscopic coating surrounding the entire product. Each piece of waxed produce has only a drop or two of wax.
Coatings used on fruits and vegetables must meet FDA food additive regulations for safety. Produce shippers and supermarkets in the United States are required by federal law to label fresh fruits and vegetables that have been waxed so you will know whether the produce you buy is coated. Watch for signs that say: "Coated with food-grade vegetable-, petroleum-, beeswax-, or shellac- based wax or resin, to maintain freshness."