Sometimes those dumb Facebook links are actually helpful. Scrolling through my newsfeed the other week, one of the links a friend posted (or it was a promotional “suggested” post, I don’t remember which) was for “25 Photos That Prove Everything You Thought You Knew is a Lie.” Being gullible and bored, I clicked on it. The things they had were stuff I already knew (patterned sidewalks were made with a stamp) and irrelevant facts I care nothing about (Hello Kitty is not a cat). However buried in those trivial things was a fact that kind of shocked me; apparently not all oranges are orange.
In many orange growing countries, like Costa Rica, oranges are green or sometimes yellow and are sold that way. I didn’t know that at all. But what really shocked me was what we do to make them orange—in order to be more palatable for the Western consumer. Agro-companies expose the oranges to ethylene gas. I was so surprised I had to look it up.
Ethylene is a natural gas given off by certain types of fruit and plants (apples for one), and can have different effects on different foods—for example, to quicken the ripening of bananas, you put the bunch in a paper bag with an apple overnight. Also this treatment is only applied to oranges imported from such countries that sell the oranges with green skins (which are still ripe). Seems okay, but I apparently confused ethylene gas for ethylene glycol—the main chemical compound for antifreeze. So I was glad what they were putting on oranges weren’t harmful, but it did beg the question of what is being used on our foods and why. This was when I decided to go to the March Against Monsanto rallies that following Saturday with my daughter.
I do not pretend to know anything about Monsanto and GMOs aside from that if certain seeds/foods are genetically bred with other foods that people are allergic to (e.g. peanuts), those with severe allergies to those foods could die from an unpredicted allergic reaction to a normally healthy food and no one would really know why. There’s a lot more to GMOs, food modification and processing that I know nothing about and I need to get educated on the subject to understand it better. Food is something we take for granted most of the time, so much so that a lot of us don’t care what we put in our bodies. With the increase of GMOs, irradiation, and other food processing that has become the norm in our society, we at least have a right to know what is in the food we buy and eat; hence why we should fight for GMO labeling—that much I did learn at the march.
I’m not trying to become an organic vegan foodie warrior overnight, nor do I want to be, but I do want to learn more about what is being done to our food for the sake of commerce and what I eat. If oranges are really green, what else don’t we know about our food?