Introducing new food technologies comes with a price, often literally. And the new Biowish food wash is no different. It’s a proprietary wash that gives fruit a longer shelf-life, but of course you have to buy it, and once a farmer switches over they’re on the hook for yet another product to help them remain competitive.
The product itself is impressive, at least according to the tests performed by the company itself. At a farm in Chamarajanagar near Mysore, India, Biowish was pitted against an aluminum sulfate wash, a more usual treatment in banana wash pools.
The usual process at this facility is to harvest the bananas, then take them to a processing plant where they are soaked in an aluminum sulfate bath for 15 minutes. This removes latex (which seeps out of the "wound" where the hand was cut from the tree) and dust from the skins. The bananas get a second dip in another aluminum sulfate bath for five minutes.
In the test, bananas were washed in both Biowish and in aluminum sulfate, and then the bananas were watched for the next couple of weeks. As you can see in the pictures, the Biowish bananas stayed green for up to nine days after treatment, while the aluminum sulfate-washed bananas blackened as usual.
The test highlights the dilemma of producers in developing countries, especially in oft-exploited markets like the banana industry. While a product like Biowish may increase the life of the fruit, and therefore increases yield, prevents waste, and keeps buyers happier, it also puts you in bed with a single vendor.
Still, it’s interesting to see how a simple soak can keep bananas green for much longer, and without the use of a controlled atmosphere to retard ripening. And it’s eye-opening to see that the Biowish wash itself is apparently approved under Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program. Remember that next time you’re patting yourself on your back for buying organic, despite the fact that your food has been treated with chemicals shipped out from the USA, and then those foods have been shipped back across the world to your local supermarket.