How old is that apple?

I should have realized this one before, but never really thought about it until I read this article today: those “fresh” apples you buy in the supermarket are probably anything but … unless you’re buying them at peak apple harvesting time. Otherwise, they’re stored for nearly a year in cold, low-oxygen and high-carbon-dioxide conditions — often after being gas-treated with 1-methylcyclopropene to block the ethylene that causes ripening and aging — before being shipped to market.

The wonders of technology, right? What’s wrong with being able to buy and eat “fresh” apples year-round? Well, research has shown that cold-stored apples gradually lose some of their nutritional punch over time. One paper concluded that, “An individual would probably need to consume at least 2 apples stored for 6 mo or more to obtain the health benefits provided by 1 freshly picked apple.”

This isn’t an argument to stop eating apples, but it is one to raise awareness that your so-called “fresh” apples aren’t equally fresh — or nutritious — every month of the year. Caveat emptor.