Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most commonly asked questions we get here at Domex Superfresh Growers. If you don’t find the answer to your questions, please e-mail us at email@example.com or call us at 509-966-1814.
Q: Why does my bag of apples say “Coated with food grade vegetable and/or shellac based wax to maintain freshness”?
A: If you walked out into an orchard, picked an apple from the tree and rubbed that apple on your shirt, you would notice that it shined – you've just polished the natural wax that an apple produces to protect its high water content. Without wax, fruits and vegetables like apples would lose their crispness and moisture through normal respiration and transpiration – eventually leaving them soft and dry.
After harvest, apples are washed and brushed to remove leaves and field dirt before they are packed in cartons for shipping to your local market. This cleaning process removes the fruit's original wax coating, so to protect the fruit we re-apply a commercial grade wax. One pound of wax may cover as many as 160,000 pieces of fruit; perhaps two drops is the most wax covering each apple.
Waxes have been used on fruits and vegetables since the 1920s. In fact, we use the same waxes used to make chocolates. They are all made from natural ingredients, and are certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be safe to eat. These waxes come from natural sources including carnauba wax, from the leaves of a Brazilian palm; candellia wax, derived from reed-like desert plants of the genus Euphorbia; and food-grade shellac, which comes from a secretion of the lac bug found in India and Pakistan.
Waxed produce can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush briefly in warm water and rinsed before eating to remove wax. Using detergents on porous foods like apples is not recommended! Back to top >>
Q: Sometimes I see a white substance on my apples and pears. What is it?
A: We use a product called kaolin clay, primarily in organic production, to protect the fruit from certain insects and sun damage (yes, apples can get sun burned). It is completely natural and is not considered an allergen. Back to top >>
Q: Are there chemicals used to grow apples?
A: Apples are threatened by over 40 different insects, diseases, fungi and other conditions that attack the tree or the fruit that it produces. To ensure that you will always have access to high-quality, pest-free apples at a reasonable price, apple growers must take steps to protect their trees and fruit from injury or destruction by apple pests.
Conscious of environmental and food safety concerns Domex Superfresh Growers practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a method of managing pests that combines different types of pest control methods – biological, cultural, chemical and mechanical – to reduce the possibility of harm to people, the tree and its fruit, and the environment. Under an IPM program, pesticides are used only when warranted. We are always looking for natural alternatives to man-made chemicals and implement them as quickly as they are approved.
Numerous health organizations, including the Surgeon General, the American Cancer Society and the American Dietetic Association, report there is a far greater health risk from not eating fruits and vegetables than from any theoretical risk that might be posed by consuming trace amounts of pesticide residues that might be found on those foods. There are no reports in the United States of adverse health effects resulting from eating food treated with pesticides.
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Q: Do you grow organically?
A: Yes we do! In fact we are continuously converting orchards to organic production. It takes three years of growing fruit using organically-approved practices before an orchard is certified by the government as “organic”. All of the fruit that we grow organically is marked “Domex Superfresh Growers Organics®”.Back to top >>
Q: Do you grow GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) fruit?
A: No, we do not. We create new varieties of fruit using centuries’ old methods. The primary method is to cross-pollinate two or more different varieties of fruit to get the qualities you want from each “parent” tree. This process has been refined over the years, but it’s essentially the same way farmers have always done it. Back to top >>
Q: Why do you put stickers on your fruit?
A: The average retail food market can stock a dozen or more different varieties of apples at one time. Add all those apple varieties to the many other fruits and vegetables in the produce department – there are more than 900 produce items registered today – and you can begin to understand the challenge facing check-out clerks and consumers alike to correctly identify all those fruits and vegetables.
Fruit stickers have proliferated in recent years, at the retail community's request, to ensure that consumers are charged correctly for their produce purchases. The stickers bear four-digit "price look-up" (PLU) codes that help clerks identify the items being purchased. Retailers also use the codes to track which produce items are most popular with consumers.
You may have noticed that some of our apples now have something that looks like a “bar code” you would see on items outside of the produce department. That is just what they are, bar codes. These new stickers help you move through check out faster because the scanners instantly read what fruit you have. These stickers also make it easier to go through “self-check-out” registers. Back to top >>
Q: Can I grow an apple tree from apples seeds or cherry trees from cherry pits?
A: Commercial apple trees are not grown from seed because apple seeds do not produce "true to variety." Instead, apple growers use grafting or budding to produce trees that will bear fruit of the same apple variety.
Apple trees reproduce from seed much like human families reproduce – even though you and your siblings may have the same parents, you all look at least a little different. In the same manner that apple trees grown from seeds may have the same "parents", the seedling siblings would all be a little different. So, every apple seed can potentially produce a new variety. This is in part why more than 7,500 apple varieties have been identified worldwide!
To create an apple tree of a particular variety, orchardists graft a twig, called a scion, from the "parent" tree onto a small, young tree called rootstock – really nothing more than a slender whip of a tiny tree with roots. The scion contains buds from which twigs and leaves will eventually grow. The trees are protected in nurseries for 1-2 years after they are grafted before being replanted by the grower in an orchard.
Budwood of different trees can even be grafted onto the same rootstock, creating a tree that will bear multiple varieties of apples. Next time you visit your local tree nursery, check out their apple trees – chances are pretty good you'll find such a tree! Back to top >>
Q: I love your fruit. Can I buy full boxes directly from you?
A: We don’t sell fruit directly to consumers; we just aren’t set up to operate that way. However, you can purchase whole boxes of fruit from many of our retailers around the world.
Q: Why do apples turn brown when I cut them and can I stop it from happening?
A: Cut apples brown in response to the "injury" of being cut.
The degree to which an apple browns depends upon that variety's natural levels of polyphenoloxydase (PPL) and vitamin C. The lower the level of PPL, the less the variety browns. The higher the level of vitamin C, the less the variety browns.
Coating apple slices and dices with a solution of 50% water and 50% vitamin C-rich lemon juice discourages the browning process. Alternately, 100% apple juice with vitamin C added can be used. Back to top >>
Q: How do I know when a pear is ripe and ready to eat?
A: Pears do not ripen well on trees. They are harvested mature but unripe and need to be ripened after harvest. Bartlett pears change from green to yellow as they ripen. Non-Bartlett pears (Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Seckel and Forelle) do not dramatically change color as they ripen. Because pears ripen from the inside out, the best way to check for ripeness is to "check the neck for ripeness". To do this, gently press near the stem with your thumb. When it gives to gentle pressure it is ripe, juicy and ready to eat. If you wait until the pear is soft around the middle chances are it will be overripe. Back to top >>
Q: How do you ripen pears? What is the fastest way to ripen them?
A: Placing pears in a paper bag will help them ripen faster. Be sure to check them daily so they don't get overripe. You can also leave them out in a fruit bowl and enjoy their beauty as they ripen. Add apples or bananas to speed up the process. Place ripe pears in the refrigerator to slow further ripening. Back to top >>