Imagine you’re in the produce section at your grocery store, pushing your cart slowly past shelves of fruits and veggies. You pause in front of the pears, and observe something strange about them: they’re individually wrapped in what looks like tissue paper.
This is something that people across the country have noticed. You’re not alone if you wonder why pears are wrapped in paper.
There are some compelling reasons behind this wrapping, but there’s also a darker side to it. We’ll shed some light on this intriguing packaging for you.
Quick Answer: Why are Pears Wrapped in Paper?
Pears are surprisingly fragile. Their skin is bruised and punctured easily, which means that their stems can stab each other during transport.
The paper you see wrapped around pears protects them from adverse conditions. It ultimately ensures that each pear you see is as close to flawless as possible on the shelves.
Pear Packaging and How it Protects Your Pears
Pears are dainty fruits. Susceptible to oxidation, bruising, and puncturing, they likely wouldn’t endure transport very well if they were all just stuffed in one large box together.
At the very least, if they weren’t wrapped up, you would see some very damaged-looking pears in your local grocery store.
However, the paper you see wrapped around these tempting fruits is more than just paper.
The practice of packaging them goes all the way back to the 1900’s, when wrapping paper and oil were used. Nowadays, though, ethoxyquin, an antioxidant, is commonly used in the paper instead.
Furthermore, copper is often used in the wrapping paper, as well. It allegedly stops the spread of mold, keeping your pears nice and shiny.
Should You Avoid Pears Packaged with Paper?
Many feel that the paper packaging is potentially dangerous and unethical. This is due primarily to the presence of ethoxyquin and copper in it.
Ethoxyquin was originally registered as a pesticide when it was developed. It is approved by both the EU and United States as a way of protecting pears currently.
Critics note, however, that as an animal feed additive, it’s banned in the EU and Australia. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to protect pears – only that it can’t be used in animal feed.
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Some may also disapprove of the use of copper in pear packaging, as they don’t like the presence of metals around and in their food.
Do these things mean you should avoid pears wrapped in paper? That’s entirely your decision, but beware that avoiding such pears is difficult.
Many grocery stores remove the paper prior to putting the pears on the shelves. Others may leave the paper on. Because of this, you can’t be sure that the paperless pears you see in the produce section haven’t simply been unwrapped prior to display.
The only way to truly eschew paper-wrapped pears is to either purchase organic ones or to grow your own. Alternatively, you can visit your farmer’s market and ask if any pears there have been packaged in the standard ethoxyquin paper.
Related Article: Why are My Pears so Hard? (And How to Fix It)
How to Package Your Own Pears
If you do end up choosing to grow your own pears, you may want to know how to properly store them for later use. Don’t worry – you don’t need to use the paper used in grocery stores.
Storing them is actually pretty easy. Once your pears are washed and dried, you can carefully wrap them in tissue paper (newspaper works, too!) and put them in a box.
The process is different if your pears still need to ripen. In that case, put them in a plastic bag with ventilation and it keep it somewhere that’s not too bright or hot.
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In conclusion, the paper you see on pears sometimes in stores is there to keep them looking their best. The bad news is, the paper is kind of controversial because of the additional elements added to it, like ethoxyquin and copper.
Because of this, many people choose to purchase organic pears only. Some may also grow their own. Whether you choose to the same is your decision in the end.