Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Grappling With My Food

The other day my boyfriend and I were in the produce section of our local grocery store, when we were stopped in our tracks by another example of genetic tampering.  My boyfriend, being a curious soul, picked them up and simply had to try them.  So we tried our first grapple.  

A grapple is an unnatural genetic amalgam between an apple and a grape, something that needs to be experienced to be believed.  And experience we did.  Before we even left the grocery store parking lot, he bit into it and shared it with me.  I would describe it as having the familiar crunchy texture and appearance of an apple with an artificial grape taste. To be honest, the whole concept of it bothered me and continues to creep me out.  As an avid reader of Michael Pollan's explorations of food production, I was well aware of how corporations are taking food genetic modification to an uncomfortable level, but seeing such irrefutable concrete proof of it at the Country Grocer put me over the edge.  Though I know that farmers have used genetics to alter their crops for centuries, I'm not as disturbed by a farmer creating a new variety of pear by combining two different kinds of pear, than I am about this new cross-species gene splicing.  

Genetic research has made a lot of medical advances possible, so I'm not averse to it in general, but I draw the line when it comes to food and profit-driven experimentation.  I get that companies like Monsanto want to create larger corn yields, and some customers would rather their roses last longer without scent.  But I don't have to like it.  There is something to be said for food that resembles something my great-grandmother would recognize and not some unnatural lovechild of two dissimilar species of fruit.  After we finished the grapple, my boyfriend, the avid environmentalist, tossed the core out of the car window and onto a grassy median.  I freaked out about it, worried that, when introduced to the natural world, grapple seeds might produce a tree/vine that would take over.  We talked about how a tree with vine-like branches may take over that median and crowd out indigenous trees, kind of like the Scotch Broom.  

I don't think that will happen, but while the seeds germinate I need to figure out what to do with the three remaining grapples.  I'm thinking muffins.   

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