I remember the days when the smell of a fresh apple pie baking in the oven filled the house. My mother used few ingredients; fresh apples from our backyard tree, flour, sugar, salt, butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon. There was no such thing as a ‘commercial’ apple pie, except that which could be found in the local bakery; the basic ingredients the same as those of my mother.

Recently, while prowling about in my local supermarket, I looked in the frozen food case. There on a large, square box, was a photo of a flawless, beautiful apple pie with the words, “Mother Kirsch’s Homemade Apple Pie”. Long latent memories arose. “Homemade, ah! ” Into the cart it went, along with the paper towels, carrots, cat food and frozen salmon filets from India.

When I arrived home, I heated up the oven, and removed the apple pie from the package. The anemic, pale-gray thing didn’t quite resemble the photo on the box. I slid it in in the oven, and having nothing better to do, started to read the mostly fine print on the carton. First off, ‘homemade’? ‘ Deceptive! ‘Mrs. Kirsch,’ was a division of ConAgra the billion-dollar monopoly, growing, making, and distributing, almost everything you eat.
There was an 800 number on the box, so while waiting in vain for the delightful smell of apple pie to waft from the oven, I dialed it. After the usual automated nonsense, a human answered. I told her I’d like to speak to Mrs. Kirsch. She told me I had the wrong number and hung up. I returned to reading the box. ” Best used by June 2010″! Huh? My mother’s pie would turn green and moldy in three or four days, should there be any of it left over, which there never was.
As the pie sat silently baking, and unwafting, I continued to read the box. There, on the end, printed in green on a green background in microscopic letters was, er,…. …something.
I peered through my 10X magnifying glass and up popped ‘ Ingredients’ I read in horror….. more chemicals than in a Taliban car bomb! Yes, apples( dehydrated from concentrate), also disodium guanylate, and disodium inosinate, pregelatinized wheat starch, cysteine/cystine, amylase, stearic acid, calcium lactate, glutamic acid, maltodextrin, F D and C red dye # 40, yellow dye # 20, Orange dye # 12B, propylene glycol, monoglycerides and dyglycerides, BHA, BHT, caprocaprylobehenin,dimethylpolysiloxane, hydrogenated oil, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium propionate, sucroglycerides, potassium benzoate and hexa-, hepta- and octa-esters of sucrose.

Warily, I opened the oven door and peered in. The pie was bubbling away in its grayness. No apple scent filled the kitchen, instead, the air was filled with an odor resembling burning tires.

I cautiously removed the pie and set it down outside in the woods near my home. That was last month. It’s still there bubbling away. The plant life surrounding it is brown and withered. Several squirrels and birds lay dead nearby.

Mother Kirsch undoubtedly had a Ph.D. in chemistry. I’m glad my mother didn’t!