An Apple That Tastes Like a Grape: The Politics of Food

The Grapple is an apple that tastes like a grape. Created in Wenatchee Valley, WA, (“The Apple Capital of the World”), the Grapple is now a commercial success available at Walmarts and big-box stores the world over. But how is it made? According to the label, it’s simply apples infused with natural and artificial grape flavor. But it turns out that methyl anthranilate—the chemical compound in artificial grape flavor—is used as a bird repellent. In this investigative report, VICE’s former editor-in-chief Adam Leith Gollner, author of The Fruit Hunters, looks at how the Grapple came into existence. Adam speaks with everyone from growers and breeders to pesticide salesmen and patent lawyers, even exploring the notion of the FDA’s GRAS list, “Generally Regarded As Safe”, with Michael F. Jacobsen of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This edition of Politics of Food explores one of the strangest fruits available in the world today; in Adam’s search to solve this flavor mystery, which sheds light on the complex nature of our modern food system, we find out that this pomaceous treat represents much more than a puerile snack.

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