Ummm, What? My Fruit Isn't Vegan?

Aren't these clementines lovely? Not so fast...

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I picked up this box the other day, made sure none were rotten, and headed to the cash register.

When I got home, I noticed this tidbit ....

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Lac-resin based wax? I googled lac-resin and was appalled to see that it's the secretions of a tiny lac insect.*Gag*

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(source)

Why in the world are food companies using animal byproducts to preserve and shine conventional (non-organic) fruit?

According to the FDA:

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.

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."

Why this annoys me

Most of the time I buy organic produce, but what if I didn't have the money or that option wasn't available in my area? This is one of the reasons healthy eating has such an expensive stigma.  With unreasonable food standards like this, you have no choice but to buy organic if you're a vegan. *Sigh*

Just wash it off?  As a vegan, I don't want to eat animal products. Period. 

Also, according to this article, "...at this point in time, the only way we know of to remove the wax from non-organic produce is to remove the skin, as washing will not remove the wax or any bacteria trapped beneath it."

You need the skin on apples because that's where most of the nutrients are (apples, oranges, and cucumbers are most likely to have the wax).

Possible Solutions

*Farmer's markets tend to not have the wax coating because they pick and sell their produce much faster than traditional grocery stores

*Grow your own fruit & vegetables

*Buy organic- *Sigh* In a perfect world we could all do that

What do you think? Let's discuss in the comments section below or on Twitter

Sidenote: While googling for this post, I also saw that many food companies use lac-resin as a thin coating on candy & pharmaceutical products. Here's more information on that here.