Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Processed Produce

I saw something this past week at the grocery store that made me weep for the next generation. I was in the produce section picking up carrots and celery and peppers when I walked by a section of apples. But not just any apples. Individually wrapped apples. I thought that was odd until I took a look at the wrapper. And it was a:

Bubble Gum Flavored Apple

I kid you not. This apple was apparently bubble gum flavored. I'm not sure how they make it flavored but I stood there, dumbfounded, and couldn't figure out if I wanted to run away screaming or break down weeping right there. I didn't buy one to find out how they flavored it. Heck I couldn't even bring myself to pick it up. I didn't want to be seen with it. It was terrible.

I've been on a "real" food kick lately. The processed cereals that I've been buying are starting to smell too chemically for me. I can't bring myself to eat the processed frozen meals for lunch. I shop mostly in produce with some dairy. I'm trying to start using the grains and beans I buy. It's not really a health conscious decision, it's more based on what sounds good. I like things made without chemicals. Fresh is starting to mean more to me.

And I guess I stupidly assumed that produce would always be real. That a tomato (particularly an organic tomato) was just a tomato. That grapes had no artificial flavors to make them more grapey. That celery was made up of just celery. And that apples would always taste like apples in all their wondrous variety. So this scares me. Are we trying this to make kids interested in fruit? Because the fruit that they're eating doesn't taste like fruit anymore. They won't grow to love apples. But they will crave bubble gum. And even more scary, I'm sure that there are parents out there that will buy them. We have no idea how they flavored these apples but a few parents will think "hey this is tasty and healthy" and buy them for their kids. And the kids will never get to know how tasty a real apple can be.

I've become cynical about food processors and marketers. The more packaging something has the less likely I am to buy it. This week I finally figure out why that is. Soon I'll be able to buy chocolate flavored grapes and artificial raspberry-flavored strawberries. And a little more naturalness will be gone. I weep for the next generation.


Keith said...

I might consider eating more fresh fruit and vegetables if any of it actually tasted like something more than formed cardboard. Short of apples and bananas, everything in the produce aisle is flavorless and wooden.

Skem said...

That. Is. Terrifying. Apples taste like apples, bubblegum tastes like bubblegum and that is the way it should stay.

Deena Nicole said...

You have touched on a topic that gets me very fired up! I thought it was bad enough that one can now purchased pre-washed, pre-sliced apples (heaven only knows what they must be soaked in to keep from turning brown for days on end). I, too, am an eater of primarily whole foods... not to say that I don't like something processed on occasion. But there is a time and place for processed foods, and it's called after dinner and in the chip/cookie aisle. Great post, Cat!

Cat B said...

Keith, I know that certainly compared to fresh off the vine/tree/bush produce, the stuff in the produce section isn't perfect, but I still find most of it incredibly flavorful. Every time I smell and taste a green pepper all I can think is "What a flavor". I love that they offer real tastes, like real food. Not something made in a lab in New Jersey.

I couldn't agree with you more Em. What the heck. Keep those things separate. What's next, celery with artificial peanut butter flavor injected in. Bleh.

Thanks Deena, I too will occasionally find an oreo in my hand. And the processed stuff does have a place. But it shouldn't be in the produce section. I agree completely. As for those pre-sliced apples, what do they wash those in? Ewww. I don't think I want to know.