By April Guilbault
Recently, while in the grocery store, I came across an item that does not belong in the grocery store.
Like any Mom, I’m always looking for good snacks for my family and easy ones, too. We get into ruts and need to keep it fresh, so to speak. So, I wandered over to the refrigerated section within the produce area, just to peruse. You know the spot. You can find the tofu, the guacamole and those scary little bags of pre-packed apple slices and mini-carrots, that have been sitting in those little bags for lord only knows how long.
Well, in this area, on one shelf was an item that boggled me. And petrified me.
An apple, in a bag, that has been injected with “flavorings” in a completely bizarre attempt to make it sweeter and more appealing. “Crazy Apples”, they are called. How appropriately named.
There’s sure a lot of crazy going on here, that’s for sure.
Yes, the one that I happened to see first was BubbleGum flavored. They were extolling the virtues of an apple being a healthy snack under the guise of it being flavored like a piece of gum. Or Tropical Fruit. Or Pomegranate Grape (common sense begs the question “why not just buy some tropical fruit or a pomegranate or some grapes??”). And yes, companies seem to be latching onto this schizophrenic-produce idea. There are Craisins that are flavored now with cherry or pomegranate or even blueberry. But an apple flavored to taste like bubble gum? That’s where I draw the line.
My head hurts, because somewhere, in some office, this makes sense to someone. To the point that they took the time to fund, package and distribute this heinous product.
Have we really come to the point where we are trying to mask the real taste of a piece of fruit by injecting it with the flavors of a manmade piece of sugar (or other fruits?)? The really scary part was that the packaging said “no sugar added”, “100% natural” (how?) and “kids will love it!”. Shame on the folks who produce this product.
This smacks of those cookbooks by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife. You know the ones where she is sneaking “healthy” foods into dishes that she prepares for her kids? Pureed beets, fruits, spinach appearing in items like brownies and sauces? Sure, I get that some kids are really, really, really picky, but honestly, this is what you have to resort to on a meal-to-meal basis? And yes, I’ve done it myself to a certain degree. I add flaxseed to my homemade pancakes and muffins, and wheat bran to my zucchini breads. But beets in my brownies? Again, that’s where I draw the line. I hated beets as a child, but now I love them. Sometimes it just takes time for a palate to bloom.
There are a whole lot of foods out there with many beneficial attributes. If kids don’t like spinach, try some other veggie or green with a similar benefits. If an apple is not rocking their world (without it tasting like bubble gum), try an orange. Or a pear. Or watermelon. The odds are in your favor that you will eventually hit a winner. Sneaking ingredients into food or altering foods to make them taste like something else is not teaching children how to expand their palates. Time and patience can do that.
Have we given up on teaching our kids how real food tastes and that we should appreciate it for what it is (standing alone, without adulteration or ambush-attacks) and what it does for our bodies?
I hope not.
THAT would be crazy.
April Guilbault is a graphic artist and illustrator turned freelance writer and blogger. After studying Communication Design at Syracuse University, she went on to work at NBC in Chicago and New York as a graphic designer on such shows as NBC Nightly News and The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which earned her several Emmy awards. These days she focuses on a new-to-her variety of creativity…words and writing. Her blog www.DailyFrosting.com is a daily pursuit covering all aspects of enhancing one’s life, namely focusing on the little things that make it worthwhile. Humor, recipes and observances rule the day. She is currently also a contributing writer to the FC Beat magazine.