My wife, on the other hand, has other things on her mind and really can't devote the sort of energy it takes to be mad at the world like I can. I have to be okay with that because its her mind. But every once in a while, I'll try to educate her about something without overwhelming her in the kinds of drama she doesn't want.
So when she brought home these pre-sliced apples I was prepared to turn it into a teachable moment.
You see, these apples don't turn brown. Normally when I slice an apple it will turn brown before I can shove it into a tub of caramel and jam it into my gaping maw. I've accepted this as a defining natural characteristic for an apple so when these apples didn't turn brown it really made me question what unnatural preservatives could be pumped into these to alter them so dramatically.
As I've stated on this blog numerous times, I'm not scientifically-minded by nature but I am curious about science. With that in mind, I decided it was time to conduct a non-controlled experiment. I took this picture with the intent to see just how long it will take for these apples to turn brown.
|Here we go. Do scientists say anything at the start of |
a project? Play ball, we have lift off, or get 'er done?
While waiting for them to turn brown I got online to do a little extra research.
Brief aside: I am of a generation that has straddled both sides of the information age. When I was in school research was conducted by reading encyclopedias, source material, and microfiche. My 8th grade paper was on the history of the atomic bomb. So I went to our family encyclopedia to start reading up on the subject but I couldn't find anything on it at all. Turned out, our encyclopedias were older than the atomic bomb was. Kids have it so easy these days.Back to apples. According to the package there are only two ingredients in these apples. The apples themselves and calcium ascorbate. "Haha, Crunch Pak people, I've got you in my sights now!" I thought. If calcium ascorbate doesn't sound like scientific jargon meant to conceal ghastly side effects I don't know what does. Acorbate just sounds like something that will harden your arteries, shut down your kidneys and cause priapism.
|They don't look great, but they aren't getting browner.|
Or maybe it's just good use of science.
According to a company called UniChem it's pretty harmless. In fact, it sounds like it might even be good for us.
Ascorbic acid is the pure form of vitamin C; however, with the combination of calcium, the supplement calcium ascorbate is produced. Because calcium ascorbate is less acidic and thus, easier on the digestive tract, it can be consumed in high doses without the possible side effects like diarrhea, rashes and stomach aches that may occur in individuals who are sensitive to taking pure vitamin C.
|This picture is blurry because I was too drunk on|
apple cider to hold my phone still.
It goes on to say that:
Calcium ascorbate offers an efficient way to supplement vitamin C and the essential mineral, calcium, at the same time. Amongst other mineral ascorbates, calcium ascorbate is a non-acidic form that can provide the same great benefits of vitamin C without upsetting the stomach and digestive system.So, if the only thing that's been added to these apples to keep them from turning brown is this magical combination of vitamin C and calcium you could make the argument that these apples are even better for you than regular apples are!
|Sober again. No noticeable change in 4 hours!|
Still, isn't it more than just a little unsettling that these don't turn brown? I left the apples out overnight and still didn't notice any browning. They had gotten very dry and the peels were starting to bubble a little bit but the flesh still looked like a fresh-cut apple.
So I've concluded that my thesis was all wrong and that these apples are probably fine. They are probably better than fine, in fact.
For an in-depth article on how these apples were brought to market, check out this piece from the New York Times Magazine: Twelve Easy Pieces. Within the article are some interesting facts such as:
- In studies, students in Florida ate twice as many apples when they were sliced as compared to whole apples. Students in Nevada ate three times as much when the apples were sliced.
- Americans eat half as many pounds of apples as Europeans do per capita.
- They figured out that cutting an apple in 12 slices optimizes freshness. Apparently, when you cut an apple in normal situations the apple increases production of the hormone ethylene. The cutting also ruptures cells that had compartmentalized substances that suddenly spill out and intermingle.
- In 2005, McDonald's stocked 54 million pounds of pre-sliced apples.
- Before the 1960s, boxcars full of unmarketable apples were dumped into Washington's Columbia river. Then they learned to make frozen juice concentrate out of those apples instead.
- Apple growers in Washington harvest apples in late summer and early fall and store them in oxygen-depleted containers so they can slowly distribute them throughout the year.