Do your apples brown when you cut them? Yes, good. No? There’s something you need to know and please share this post with anyone who loves to eat apples, more often.
The Arctic® Apples from Okanagan are now hitting grocery stores. They are genetically engineered and use precision breeding to create apples that “switch off their browning genes”. “We’ve made safe and healthy apples” is their statement with the tagline “the perfect fruit just got even better.” So how about them apples? Helpful? Healthful? Safe? Let’s look at what we know – and don’t know – and help you make a better not perfect choice for you and yours, more often.
- Safety means in any reasonable quantity and for all humans. This evidence does not exist for these apples.
- How many non-browning apples will be safe overtime? We don’t know.
- Are they safe for kids or pregnant women? We don’t know.
- They are not organic. That is a choice, and in my opinion (based on science) organic is a better nutrition choice.
- The NOSB reviews pesticides and chemicals allowed to be used in any aspect of production every five years for safety. Pesticides aren’t a problem, if they are better and used appropriately.
- Organic means more plant nutrients – antioxidants – from fruits like berries likely because in the absence of many pesticides and chemicals the plant works harder to protect themselves and that translates to more protecting nutrients for us eaters.
- The hip bones connected to the thigh bone etc. No bones about it, when you take one gene out of a fruit or seed you change it. In this case, the apples are being directed to turn off the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzyme. What happens we are told is nothing, other than non-browning. Hmmmm.
- What happens when our bodies receive an apple with less of that enzyme turned on? What If our body is already attacking itself (auto-immune disease & cancer)? We don’t know.
- Will stopping the browning have any impact on how your body recognizes and uses this apple? Maybe.
- Brown isn’t bad. Ugly fruit is beautiful and healthful. Instead of science to “make the perfect fruit better” how about communication to reduce food waste by showing how delicious a browning apple still is – and if you dislike it brown, blend it or bake it for something extra delicious. They claim more antioxidants and vitamin C because the apples don’t brown, let’s note that more is not always better especially if it comes with other communication / health risks.
My recommendation: As a dietitian, I review what is safe for long term consumption for my patients – all of them – and I make recommendations that help people make better, not perfect, choices more often. So that means no Arctic® Apples are currently Ashley Koff Approved (AKA).
What can you do:
- Choose organic apples more often (look for the # on the label to start with a 9) & cut and freeze, add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to storage, or bake if you don’t like browning or if they start to turn.
- Ask schools / hospitals to ask their purveyors if they source Artic® Apples.
- Continue to purchase non-gmo products containing apples. I assume that the Non-GMO project will be working on food products with apples but at this time I don’t believe that these apples are being used as ingredients so if you see the Non-GMO label on an apple product you can still feel good about that verification.