All I needed was an apple and a jar of applesauce. Trips to the grocery store don’t get any easier than that. Dash in, grab, go. But as I approached the produce section, I could feel that creeping sense of dread. Here we go again.
Organic vs. conventional. The question sits there, forcing me to reveal my moral fiber. I fidget. I look at the ground. I weigh the price difference in my head. I think of that article that says apples are the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides. I think of my children biting into the apple. I ponder my husband’s rollback at work (in case you haven’t heard of that one, it’s the opposite of a raise). I recall scenes from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. And I’m paralyzed.
I don’t have the same problem with meat. I’m a recovered vegetarian. It’s a condition that I have to manage, a bit like diabetes or alcoholism. I still can’t stare at a whole chicken for too long before putting it in to roast. I don’t eat anything too rare. And I definitely can’t watch my dad drop lobsters into the pot.
When it comes to meat, I made a decision to buy organic or grass-fed or free range or whatever needed to happen to ensure that the animal wasn’t raised in a hell hole. But I haven’t codified my attitude toward produce in the same way, and so I become a freak sideshow. “Look, mommy, they have a living statue in Trader Joe’s!” (At least if I spray painted my face silver and threw a hat down on the ground, I could earn enough change to afford the organic apples. Now there’s a virtuous cycle.)
With a name like “applesauce bars,” I’m likely to choose organic. The bars sound so wholesome, precisely the kind of thing you tuck into little Susie’s lunchbox. And I suppose this implies that my favorite Apple Rum Raisin bread, fallen creature that it is with 1/2 cup of rum in the batter, deserves conventional apples? This is not a tenable moral philosophy, and it’s fair to say The NY Times’ Randy Cohen, a.k.a. the Ethicist, will not be calling me for a consult anytime soon.
As for these bars, you could make them with one of Snow White’s poisoned apples and they would taste great. The bars are soft, tender, with flavors of apple, spice, and a sweet brown sugar glaze. I expected them to have a firmer texture, something my kids could carry around in one hand and eat without it falling apart. But they’re tender like a piece of cake, which is lovely, albeit best eaten with a fork, or standing directly over the pan (my preferred method).