American demand for avocados is so great—and the supply so precious—that restaurants have had to cut guacamole corners in recent months. Because every last avocado counts, grocery store chain Kroger has debuted avocados sprayed with a new, plant-based coating designed to keep produce fresh longer.
Kroger announced this week that the powdered coating comes from a company called Apeel, and when mixed with water and sprayed onto produce, it keeps oxygen out, prolonging the time before the fruit or vegetable spoils. It’s also being applied to asparagus and limes in a small percentage of Kroger stores. The company hopes the longer-lasting produce will eliminate food waste not only in people’s kitchens, but in the stores themselves.
All very well and good. But while I can support the food waste reduction efforts, I’m worried Kroger’s avocado strategy is—what’s the phrase I’m searching for?—entirely wrong.
My issue isn’t that grocery store avocados go bad, it’s that they never ripen at all. That’s why I planned ahead and purchased avocados for my Cinco de Mayo guacamole yesterday. Hopefully, with all my paper-bag ripening tricks, they’ll be something less than rock-hard come spring.
But in seriousness, I worry that keeping oxygen away from avocados’ surfaces means they’ll ripen even more slowly than they already seem to. Given my propensity to last-minute shop for just the food I need for the next few meals, I’m rarely buying produce a week in advance. When I’m at the market, hoping to pick up supplies to make tacos tonight, the last thing I need is an even longer wait for ripe avocados.