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.
- Why does my bag of apples say "Coated with food grade vegetable and/or shellac based wax to maintain freshness"?
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 natural wax coating, so to protect the fruit we re-apply a food grade wax.
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; and food-grade shellac.
Waxed produce can be rubbed between your hands or scrubbed with a vegetable brush briefly under running cool water to remove wax. Using detergents on porous foods like apples is not recommended.
- Sometimes I see a white substance on my apples and pears. What is it?
We use a product called kaolin clay, primarily in organic production, to protect the fruit from certain insects and sun damage. The clay is natural, approved for use in organics, and is not considered an allergen.
- How do you protect the trees from pests?
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 continually searching for natural alternatives to synthetic chemicals and implement them as quickly as they are approved.
- Do you grow organically?
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®”.
- Do you grow GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) fruit?
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.
- Why do you put stickers on your fruit?
Fruit stickers have proliferated in recent years to ensure that consumers are able to identify the varieties and 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-checkout” registers.
- Can I grow an apple tree from apples seeds or cherry trees from cherry pits?
Commercial apple trees are not grown from seed because apple seeds do not produce "true to variety." Instead, apple growers use centuries-old methods of 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!