Are “Chemical-Free” Fruits Really Chemical-Free?

When people go to the supermarket to pick up fresh fruit, they might be looking for apples or oranges with labels such as “chemical-free” or “no chemicals were used in the making of this product”.  This is all well and good, as some people prefer to buy and eat fruit that hasn’t been altered or affected by any outside substance. In addition, a seller looking to sell the fruit is marketing the product as chemical-free because the product itself should have no harmful substances such as pesticides, as well as no growth hormones and the like that allow to fruit to be tastier, bigger, juicer, etc.

However, this could be called false advertising on the seller’s part because they are, whether knowingly or unknowingly, manipulating the fruit buyers into thinking their fruit is free of all chemicals, when this is not true. Interestingly, it is possible that the seller isn’t completely at fault.

The buyers themselves may share the blame for no other reason than they are misinformed. Buyers that look for those products usually have the wrong idea as to what “chemical-free” actually means. According to this page, the definition of a chemical is “…whether created in a lab or produced by nature, a compound of various elements held together by chemical bonds, these compounds exist everywhere and the existence of some objects and even life on earth would be impossible without them.”

So what does this mean? For starters, it disproves any claims that the fruits being sold are “chemical-free”. Why? Since a compound consists of more than one element held by bonds, and can be produced by nature, it makes sense that fruits have all sorts of chemicals in them. For example, sucrose is a sugar produced naturally by a fruit, and one molecule has the chemical formula of C6H12O6.  Sucrose is, in fact, according to this definition, a chemical.

Now because sucrose is a chemical, the “chemical-free” labels on the fruit are definitely wrong. But why do fruit sellers advertise their product as such? For one, they know people will buy them if people want perceived “chemical-free” fruit. Therefore, it is important that potential fruit buyers know what exactly “chemical-free” entails, and the first step is reading articles about the subject or informed blogs such as this one.

Furthermore, it is important to note that in the United States, the words “chemical-free” are not allowed to be on a food label. According to this food information encyclopedia, which gets its information from the USDA website, the term “chemical-free” is not allowed to be used on a label. Other places in the world might not have these kinds of restrictions, especially common fruit markets in Africa or Southeast Asia.

While a fruit labeled “chemical-free” may look like a really good option, consider what the seller truly wants you to think before you buy it. Generally, the seller means that the fruit was grown without the use of potentially harmful or toxic substances like pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones, and if this is what you are looking for, go ahead and buy the fruit. Although, the best labels for these kinds of products would be “all-natural” or “all-organic” because that implies the fruit was definitely not treated with a synthesized compound, and would be a more accurate label than “chemical-free”.

Now the next time you go to a fruit market, you know what to look out for!

Label courtesy of http://www.chemistry-blog.com/2014/04/01/the-advance-of-the-chemical-free-sciences/
Label courtesy of http://www.chemistry-blog.com/2014/04/01/the-advance-of-the-chemical-free-sciences/
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