Cotton Candy Grapes: A Quick Journey from Skeptical to Intrigued

Image courtesy of Spencer Gray via npr.org

It might come as a surprise to some that I can be a bit of a purist when it comes to food. While I am aware that candy is sometimes full of less-than-desirable colorings and ingredients, and that these are part of what draws me to them, I really do wish that everything I ate was much more natural than it might actually be. I buy organic fruits, vegetables and meats as often as possible, trying to let my dollar do the talking when it comes to what me and countless others desire from the food industry. As such, when I first came across an article about grapes that taste like cotton candy, my first thought was, “Keep your chemicals out of my fruit bowl!” After all, if I want cotton candy I can eat cotton candy, and grapes are delicious all on their own without tinkering around with them. But before jumping to too many conclusions, I read the following article beginning to end: The Cotton Candy Grape: A Sweet Spin On Designer Fruit.

I don’t consider myself an expert on the fruit or food industry because of reading a few articles, so please don’t get that impression! But the article touched on something that I’ve been saying to anyone who will listen for years now – food doesn’t taste the same as it once did.

The horticulturalist behind the cotton candy grape, David Cain, isn’t trying to junk food-ify our fruit supply at all. In fact, he “wants to bring back the natural flavors of our grapes, which have been stripped away by decades of breeding fruit to withstand shipping and storage.” And how is he working to achieve this goal? Not through artificial flavoring as I initially presumed, rather through plant breeding. The cotton candy grape is actually a hybrid of two different species of grapes, drawing on positive attributes of each for an entirely new flavor. This isn’t to say there isn’t any science at all to cotton candy grapes – quite the contrary! As the article explains, there are quite a few test tubes involved, and plenty of human involvement. These grapes weren’t discovered growing somewhere – they were created. But the process seems a lot more logical, and a lot less artificial, than I had originally presumed. I would like to dig a bit deeper to gain a better understanding, but as things stand now, I think I’d give them a try! How about you?

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