Nonorganic apples are usually treated with inexpensive preparations of antioxidant diphenylamine (DPA) or 1-methylocylopropene (1-MCP) before they are put into cold storage for consumption up to 12 months after they are harvested. While untrained taste testers in Pesis’s study believed that the apples treated with 1-MCP tasted better after storage than the organic apples, the organic fruit subjected to the new method alone was considered almost as good as that treated with chemicals.
The study says that variations in the method could be used to extend the shelf life of other organic produce, including strawberries, tomatoes, persimmons, and other varieties of apples.
While less of a reliance on refrigeration should make organic produce easier and cheaper to store, the research team’s report states that “the simplicity, low cost and efficacy of this new apple treatment” also make it suitable for use in developing countries. In the developing world, where refrigeration is less available and power supplies to maintain low temperatures are less reliable, it’s difficult for food producers to get their less expensive produce to richer Western markets. Avoiding chemical treatments also lowers the cost of apple storage for developing-world producers.
“I cannot tell you if the treatment will be cheaper than the use of DPA,” Pesis says, “but I am sure it can be cheaper than use of MCP.”