Wonder why apples eaten straight off the tree taste so much better than ones at the supermarket? Do you believe it when supermarkets tout their “fresh” fruits and vegetables? The truth is that many produce you buy at the supermarket is not so fresh. Spinach and lettuce can be up to a few weeks old. Your apples might be one year old.
The apple season in the US is between August and September. With a short harvest season, and year round demand, apples are kept in cold storage for 9 to 12 months. Apples are picked when they’re slightly unripe. They can be treated with a chemical called 1-methylcyclopropene or fungicides, then waxed. The apples are packed into boxes, stacked onto pallets, and go in the cold storage for up to a year.
Apples are a rich source of antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidant activity in apples gradually drop off after 3 months of cold storage. That means that by the time you are able to bite into that apple, all the antioxidants are gone.
What can you do to get the most nutrients and freshest apples or fruits in general?
- Buy local.
- Buy from your local farmer’s market or produce markets that source locally grown produce.
- Eat fruits that are in season.
- Don’t peel fruits. A lot of the nutrients are stored in the fruit’s skin.
- Be careful when buying organic. Fruits that are labeled organic can have certain amounts of pesticides and use cold storage to extend the shelf life of fruits.