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Hitler’s Apples

Adolf Hitler was so consumed by a passion to purify the Arayan race that he not only tried to exterminate other races, but had his scientists working on genetic engineering for the same goal.
Adolf Hitler was so consumed by a passion to purify the Arayan race that he not only tried to exterminate other races, but had his scientists working on genetic engineering for the same goal. The scientists were not like the same people now working for companies like Monsanto who are re-engineering our food, but scientists who were trying to re-engineer human genes. For those too young to recall these events, rent the movie “The Boys from Brazil” to see what may have happened.

Hitler believed that the Arayan race was best suited to rule the world. Our plant engineers are only trying to produce fruits and vegetables that are best for us. Strike that. Fruits and veggies that are the best for the shipper and merchandiser. They are engineering farm produce that will withstand being shipped thousands of kilometers and survive on the shelf for many days before wilting and finally expiring on their ‘best before’ date.

Their latest wunderkind is the new hardy apple. Called by many new and exotic names, these apples have a skin so tough that I need a pocketknife to break into them. My granddad used such a knife to eat his apples because his false teeth couldn’t manage an apple. I can still picture him slicing and adding a little salt for flavour as he ate his Delicious apples.

These new apples have a hide that is so hard the kids will soon be able to use an apple for a hockey puck – without freezing it first! Birds have stopped trying to eat these apples on the tree because they get beak ache. There may be no bruises on the apple when you buy it but you can damage the fruit when trying to peel it. And the taste? The lab technicians who reengineered these things I call Hitler’s Apples must have used lots of salt, just like granddad, when they approved the final result of their work.

It’s a good thing these weren’t the apples that Eve found in the Garden of Eden. We’d all still be as dumb as a bag of hammers!

I first noticed this loss of taste in favour of shipping hardiness in tomatoes. I used to like tomatoes – the ones we grew on the farm. Sweet and juicy, full of seeds, they were excellent with just a little salt and pepper. Or for a real treat, a little mayo spread evenly around the thick slice of a beefsteak tomato! When we moved to the city, we could still buy a decent tasting tomato. But recently, I have stopped buying tomatoes unless my wife insists that we need one for ‘colour’ in our salad.

Last year I planted some tomatoes in front of the house in the hope that the fruit would taste as wonderful as the good old days. I didn’t recognize the name of the tomato plant, but I’m not too good on names anyway. There was a hint of remembrance of flavour but I’m afraid I bought some of Hitler’s Tomatoes. The fruit had so few seeds I know they were not what Mother Nature had intended to produce. Even the chipmunks gave up after a few bites.

As a further proof of their genius, the lab people have genetically modified the new tomato into a shape that is better for packing! You have seen those ‘square’ tomatoes, haven’t you? I guess the slices will fit better on that square white bread made from modified, but enriched, flour.

My latest experience with genetic engineering came while I was on holiday in Florida. I had forgotten how good an orange or a grapefruit really tasted. It takes a few more years to get results from a tree-borne fruit than a tomato, I suppose. The oranges and grapefruit may travel better, have fewer seeds, but believe me, they do not taste anything like the original, fresh from a tree in Florida.

Now the offspring of Hitler’s scientists have reengineered the strawberry. I think it is a strawberry. It looks vaguely like the ones I pick in the summer at Leisure Farms or Becker’s. They are big and hard. Yep, granddad would have needed his pocketknife to cut a slice from these babies! But the workers who package and sell these things have no fear of bruising them, no more spoilage on the shelves – more money for the marketeers.

I guess if the city folk haven’t experienced a strawberry from the farm, they won’t know the difference. Artificial flavour, along with a list of chemicals that would have staggered Charlie Driscoll, my grade 12 science teacher, can be added to jams and jellies so the old standby of a peanut butter and strawberry sandwich (on square bread) will taste fine. In a few years, anyone trying to describe the taste of a wild strawberry to these folks will be thought to be under the influence.

I know the Boys from Monsanto are working overtime in their labs to perfect more and more of our fruits and vegetables. Already most of the rust has disappeared from our yellow beans – along with the taste. Potatoes that won’t sprout may last longer on the shelf but it sure takes a variety of spices to make them edible. Melons are on the list – but I ask you, what’s the fun in a seedless watermelon?

We’re an odd bunch, we humans. It seems we have to try to improve on everything in nature. From Hitler and his eugenics to Monsanto and our food, we think we can do better than Mother Nature. We feed our cattle things they were never meant to eat and end up with Mad Cow disease. We pump poisons into the atmosphere to kill bugs and weeds and end up eating polluted fish. We engineer grains that produce more but deplete the soil faster which we then fertilize with chemicals that poison us. We change the fruits and vegetables for shipping purposes, forgetting taste and nutrition.

One of our friends puts a coffee bean under her broiler to give the aroma of freshly ground coffee when she has a house party. Her guests are convinced they are drinking anything but instant coffee. My wife suspects they are spraying something around the new strawberries in the supermarket to make them more appealing to the shopper. Probably something like the Pine scented aerosol used in the furniture business.

We develop pills and potions to keep us alive longer and then take the enjoyment out of life by forcing ourselves to eat some kind of reengineered pap.

Damnation I say, to the people who made Hitler’s Apples!

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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