McMahon’s organic apples

CAP: Stall assistant Nick Imlay at McMahon's organic apple stall

Stall assistant Nick Imlay at McMahon’s organic apple stall.

Late last year, the two big supermarket chains announced that they would no longer be selling apples with an added coat of wax. The move was a response to customer demand for a more ‘natural’ product, they said.

Unwaxed apples were ‘as nature intended’, said a statement from one of the stores.

Few would disagree that removing the wax was a good idea. It served no purpose other than giving the apples a nice glossy shine that would make them more attractive to shoppers. But the change made by Coles and Woolies was just that – purely cosmetic. It didn’t change the fact that most of these apples will have been treated with a gas and cold stored for months on end, or that they have been sprayed with pesticides – two standard practices that are hardly ‘natural.’

Organic grower Jeff McMahon, whose apples are sold at the Mullumbimby and New Brighton Farmers Market, agrees that getting rid of the wax was a very minor change.

“(The wax) is pretty low on the scale of things as far as health goes,” he said.

While the McMahons have never used wax (the additives in it are not allowable organic inputs) he said issues such as pesticide residues on fruit were far more concerning,

Whether your apple is waxed or not, it is the way that it is grown, picked, stored and transported that has a bigger impact on flavour, freshness and nutrition.

Apart from the chemical use, one of the biggest differences between conventional apples in the supermarket and those from organic farms like the McMahon’s is storage. As organic farmers, the McMahon’s are unable to use storage gases like conventional growers, and this means the apples arriving at the farmers market are generally picked fresh within the past week or so.  Because they haven’t been stored for long periods, they generally have a better texture and flavour, and because they’re fresher, they’re also likely to be more nutritious.

The taste of the McMahon’s apples is also improved by their picking methods. Conventional growers often strip their trees in one go, and allow the unripe fruit to ripen off the tree.  At McMahon’s, they visit the trees up to four times, picking only the ripe fruit each time, and this allows the sugars in the apples to develop fully, giving a better flavour.

The result is an apple that’s chemical free, fresh and full of flavour – surely  closer to what nature intended than a cold stored, spayed fruit that is no longer coated in wax.

* Find McMahons organic apples at the  Mullumbimby Farmers Markets.

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