Photo via Grapery

Have you heard of cotton candy grapes? I didn’t know these existed until quite recently, though surprisingly, these candy flavored grapes aren’t a brand new product. NPR points out that cotton candy grapes have been commercially available since 2011 and sales have been so successful that the fruit’s distributor, Grapery, has increased production efforts in order to meet demand. These sweeter than normal grapes were developed by horticulturalist David Cain and his team at International Fruit Genetics (IFG), one of the world’s largest fruit-breeding operations. In case you haven’t tried these cotton candy grapes, Spencer Gray, blogger at Omnivorous has tried them and he points out that the grapes offer an “Upfront flavor” that’s “Remarkably like cotton candy.” Cain swears the grapes are not genetically modified, but instead the result of some massive mixed breeding of the grape plants’ gene pool with other grape varieties in order to get that cotton candy vanilla flavor – much like creating new flavors of tomatoes in your home garden. The grapes aren’t necessarily worse for you nutritionally than other grapes, though they have a bit more sugar per serving — and if you compare the labels on basic table grapes vs. cotton candy grapes, you’ll see that the cotton candy grapes are missing some nutrients offered by other grapes such as potassium and vitamin C, though that could be a labeling flaw. Still, while these cotton candy grapes aren’t inherently less nutritious than basic table grapes, should you serve them to your kids?

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Photo via Shutterstock

While some parents and most likely school lunch programs may consider candy flavored grapes a good way to get kids to eat fruit, I disagree. First of all, even as the parent of a picky eater, I don’t agree with hiding healthy food in a fake “fun” food package. Kids who are continually served fake flavored foods or hidden food don’t develop healthy eating habits, they only learn how to eat the fake foods you serve them. As adults, will your kids search out healthy food choices or only search out fake candy flavored foods? What happens when your now adult child can’t find said candy-flavored fruits? Will they buy real fruit or stick to candy? There are already huge problems in the United States related to childhood obesity, sugar addiction and junk food addiction. While I wouldn’t say cotton candy grapes are “junk food” I will say that giving kids healthy foods with fake overly sweet flavors is a really bad idea. Like bubble gum apples and fizzy fruit, all cotton candy flavored grapes do is tell kids that fruit needs to be candy flavored or fizzy like soda to be delicious and worthwhile. It sets kids up to only want candy flavored fruit instead of wanting to eat fruit based on its own merits. It can be hard to serve healthy food to your kids, but honestly kids do deserve to know what real food tastes like. Kids raised on fake foods tend to become fake food lovers. Kids raised on real food that tastes like real food will learn how to make healthy choices for life.

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