Whole Foods’ Remarkably Feculent Fruit

A paper sack of rotting fruit: oozing black, pulpy innards, fetid in maggots, a noxious stench exuding from diseased and swollen orbs. What’s that? A bag full of genetically-modified and irradiated granny smiths from the local Stop & Shop. Hardly — a two day old sack of Whole Food organic fruits.

Johnny Hong Kong wrote us in, cluing us in to the spontaneous decomposition of the fruit he was buying at his local Whole Foods.

    Having been burned on multiple occasions – buying fruit that seemed to be fresh only to have it rot coming home or buying fruit that did not taste like the whole foods brand would suggest – I picked out my purchases carefully: the bananas were green, tangerines, oranges and peaches firm – at least a day or two away – figuring it would take me that long to eat it all. The next day? Oranges – rotten. The day after that? Tangerines – moldy like I was running a penicillin factory.

Well, Johnny, we don’t have much sympathy: anyone who has sat through an 8th grade biology class knows that fruit won’t stay fresh without being crossbred with pig embryos and injected with plutonium. Or maybe not. But perhaps some of you super smarties out there can riddle us this: is there anything sprayed on non-organic fruit that perhaps staves off rapid decomposition? Given the remarkable health of the apples that have been sitting on top of my refrigerator for the last month, I’d wager yes.

Rotten Fruit Percentage [Johnny Hong Kong]


Edit Your Comment

  1. I always thought they put a thin layer of wax on non-organic fruits and veggies.

  2. Ooh, from SageFruit.com:

    ‘As you probably know, conventional fruit receives a light application of shellac wax that increases the shine and seals the apple to help reduce shrink.

    This process is required by the retail buyer to enhance the appearance of the fruit. If it were up to us we wouldn’t wax apples at all. It’s an expensive process and usually slows down production.

    For fruit to be certified organic, post harvest waxes are not accepted by the U.S.D.A. There are U.S.D.A. inspectors on site while the fruit is being packed to monitor the process.

    I can assure you there are no post harvest chemicals on your fruit! But…….there is wax on your apple. So what is it? (This is the part I enjoy)

    The wax that you have encountered is neither shellac nor carnuba. Thanks to mother nature, apples produce there own natural wax.

    Some apple varieties produce more than others. Unfortunately, we can’t control the application or shine or we’d use it on all of our apples.

  3. Falconfire says:

    actually yes there is a lot that non-organics put on their fruit to make them last longer. Many of the pests and bacteria that cause rotting to occur happens to be prevented by the chemicals used to treat fruits and veggies. Likewise there is a lot that is done to prevent spoilage on the way to the market. Without this fruit that is picked in say California, simply will NOT make it to the east coast refrigerated truck or not… because very few places properly support the things man tries to grow on it. and there is a LOT of things that like that stuff too, not just us

    One of the funny stories that my college adviser used to talk about growing up in Dutch Country Penn was the fact that they used to make fun of all the hippys who came there to buy “natural” food from the amish. Reason being, people from that area wouldn’t touch amish fruits and veggies with a 10 foot poll because of how rancid they got thanks to the lack of chemicals used. The food just naturally tasted poorer, was full of maggots and worms, and had the nutritional value of a wet tissue after you blew your nose in it from leeching.

    People love to go on about how good natural foods are, what they fail to realize is that there is a very good reason beyond mass market that people treated them as far back as history records, and its not because it was better to sell.

  4. kerry says:

    The reason the apple on your fridge is fine and his fruit rotted was because he left his fruit in a paper bag (at least, that’s what you implied in your description). Keeping fruit in an enclosed space, like a paper bag, allows the compounds that encourage ripening to build up. This is great if you want your too-green bananas to be ripe by the next morning, not so good if you want your almost ripe fruit to be fresh in 2 or 3 days. Add that mold likes moist, dark places, and you’ve got yourself a veritable incubator for rot.

  5. Amy Alkon000 says:

    I would bet he kept his fruit in a plastic bag if it rotted that fast.

    My 65-year-old Parisian friend Pierre points out that it’s good to see bugs on your lettuce because it means it probably hasn’t been showered with pesticides. Likewise, if you buy organic fruits, you need to buy fewer and eat them faster, and maybe even refrigerate them. Big whoop. Better that than eat bug spray.

  6. Rick Dobbs says:

    Whole Foods does not throw out fruit that is about to rot in respect of their feelings and the rejection they may feel by being thrown out. This policy will continue until there is unflinching proof that fruit cannot feel rejected and will not need post-rejection therapy.

  7. etinterrapax says:

    I agree about its being in an enclosed space. Don’t keep your fruit in bags, especially at room temperature, especially in summer. Greenish bananas will last several days bare on the counter, even in warm weather, and you usually want peaches to ripen a little too. Pineapples are ready when the cut end smells sweet. You can keep them out until you open them up, and then refrigerate what you don’t eat right away. I refrigerate most everything else. Apples will keep at room temp, but I like them crisp and cold. Pick over berries, throw away any mushy or moldy ones, and refrigerate or process and freeze what’s left. I don’t eat melon, so someone else can probably tell you what to do with those.

  8. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    Yes, produce not coated with poisonous waxes and bug sprays rots a little faster. As was implied above, most mass-market produce travels a looong way (the average is over 1,000 miles) to reach big-box stores that save a few pennies putting local farmers (who could also use pesticides etc., but would naturally need to use less) out of business. Keeping it enclosed in a bag accelerates the process. They (various “they”s) also sell special vent-bags and things that supposedly slow it down (I’ve never used one, but have heard good things).

    That said, maybe Whole Foods (or that WF) isn’t keeping their fruit as fresh as they could — I buy organic regularly, and it lasts a few days at least before even turning spotty. And, I might add, it tastes BETTER and has been shown scientifically to be more nutritious.


  9. Ran Kailie says:

    I get veggies and fruit at farmers markets and from Amish markets all the time and I’ve never had ti spoil like that. I personally have a hate on for Whole Foods and any other expensive yuppy/hippy grocery store. And I also have a hate on for mass market organic which goes against the idea of sustainable local organic food.

    If you want stuff to last longer, know where you’re buying it from, Whole Foods obviously isn’t taking good care of their produce section. Go to a farmer’s market, talk to the people there, ask them what they use on their produce and how long ago it was picked, etc. Most farmers are very straight forward about it. Buy in smaller quanities and keep it refrigerated.