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How a Mysterious Sticker on an Avocado Gave Me Hope

By Roxanne Griffin

As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction bought her back. I like to think I’m one of those curious cats. Recently my husband returned home from grocery shopping, and I noticed one of the avocados he purchased had a sticker on it that I’d never seen before. It said ‘Apeel- Plant-based Protection...Longer-lasting Produce’ and included the company’s website. Of note: I later learned the FDA does not require growers or grocers to label treated produce.

I’ll admit that my first inclination was a quiet mental sigh of resignation accompanied by thoughts of ‘Oh, no! Now what chemical(s) has the industry come up with to modify our produce and poison us?’ I gently removed the sticker and adhered it to my ever growing ‘to-do’ list for further investigation when time permitted.

Days later on a bright, blue sky, windless Colorado day, I talked my husband into joining me on the front porch for margaritas, chips and guacamole. It helped that I suggested he bring the radio so we could listen to the Rockies opening game of the season!

photo by Matthias Oben from Pixels

We’d just returned from a short hike, and I was super hungry given it was way past lunch hour. After making the offer, I realized I may have spoken in ravenous haste. It had been close to a week since the avocados were purchased and you know the quip about avocados - “Not yet, not yet, not yet, eat me now, too late!” So with fingers crossed, I sliced the fruit in half and was pleasantly surprised to discover perfection! Instantly I was reminded of the sticker that I’d removed. But …..I do have my priorities and well, margaritas, guacamole and chips with my guy is a no-brainer. So I nailed a mental note to the ole grey matter and the following day took time to research.

The first course of action was to go straight to the website:

to read about the company. “This is FOOD GONE GOOD” shouted the caps across my monitor! We work with nature to reduce food waste and create abundance for all. Apeel protects produce and keeps it fresh twice as long which means less food waste in our supply chain. You can’t see it or taste it but the peel is wonderful. Greater abundance for all!

photo by Lisa Fotios from Pixels

Wow, I thought! sure sounds too good to be true. Yes, in addition to being curious, I’m also a skeptic. So after a quick scroll down the homepage, it was time to dig deeper into the website. I read their story, the FAQ, the science involved, career opportunities. Unfortunately their Sustainability page was under construction. But at least they HAD a sustainability page unlike some of the other companies I later checked out. (more later on this)

I was impressed! Vegan friendly, plant based technology, no GMO, certified to be used on USDA organic produce, designated (GRAS) by the FDA are just a few bells that rang out positive. But can it be washed off? The answer to this question didn’t swing the clapper. Evidently it’s next to impossible to remove the protective shield without damaging the produce. Should I/we be worried? After all we’re assured the edible armor is safe for consumption! We don’t eat the peel on avocados. But there’s lots of produce we eat peel and all.

So the next course of action was to see what I could find out from independent sources. I verified that yes indeed the FDA had designated the protective shield as ‘Generally Regarded As Safe.’ A designation that is typically noncontroversial as one article stated, but by whose standards?

photo by Foodie Factor from Pixels

Read more here about FDA’s GRAS designation:

One of the more informative articles I read was in ‘The Guardian’ titled “Stopping the rot: the fight to save fresh food”

It is brilliantly written for the layperson and well researched. In addition to offering up information on Apeel, the author discusses other technologies in this field with links to the various companies’ websites.

Check out other companies here:

This company was mentioned in ‘The Guardian’ article but now is no longer called Cambridge Crops -

photo by Anne from Pixels

Now you may be wondering, I thought this blog was about plastic waste and you’d be right! So what’s the connection of these technologies on plastic waste? Using Apeel as an example, one of the suppliers they work with that previously wrapped cucumbers in single-use plastic no longer does so. To give you a visual on that, the article in ‘The Guardian’ notes that this one seemingly small change will have an impact of eliminating in a single year enough plastic wrap to encircle the Empire State Building eleven times over! That said, I have the same ‘ask’ as in the article, ‘imagine adding that to each food category throughout the globe’ and the huge resulting paradigm shift away from single-use plastics!’

But wait, there’s more! The impacts of longer shelf life also has an impact on food distribution in opening options that will result in reducing costs and emissions. A longer shelf life means food can be shipped by sea as it no longer requires the expediency of air shipment reducing costs and green-house gas emissions!

Here’s a bonus article on Apeel:

Until next month, do good work to be well! And stay curious, my friend!



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