Apple pie is bad now. Presumably next on the cancel list is Mom.
In a piece for the Guardian titled “Food injustice has deep roots,” Dr. Raj Patel argued that the pie’s history is linked to the “vast and ongoing genocide of Indigenous people.”
While its critics may smear the dessert as a symbol of America’s flawed past, the quintessential apple pie showcases America’s immeasurable potential.
Take the ingredients, for instance. When apples first arrived in the New World in the 1500s, sugar and spices were still luxuries reserved for monarchs, aristocrats, and few others. During the colonial era, settlers had to mill their own harvested grain to make flour. Thanks to the innovations made during the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of international trade, more people were now able to buy flour, sugar, and cinnamon at their local store. Indeed, the very fact that the apple pie is a staple on the Thanksgiving table demonstrates the relative success of free markets.
The origins of the pie also illustrate the uniqueness of American civic nationalism. Patel rightly asserts that apple pie is not uniquely American; it is a variation of an English recipe for pumpkin pie. In some ways, however, the pie’s transformation is reflective of American exceptionalism. Similarly to how the pie kept some of its English characteristics, new arrivals to our shores can retain their unique cultural identity while embracing American principles such as individual rights, national sovereignty, and liberty.
While Patel and others see America’s imperfect past as an indictment of everything to come out of that past, it's more sensible to see our history as a constant effort to become “a more perfect union.” Through a bloody and hard-fought Civil War, America abolished the institution of slavery. And America’s general commitment to market capitalism and individual agency has been accompanied by an increase in the standard of living, which has made luxuries such as the humble apple pie within reach of ordinary consumers.
It may soon be the case that a woke warrior might gawk as you buy your pie at a local bakery. Eating it may become as countercultural as flying an American flag. But remember, as you dive into that warm, buttery pastry enveloping those soft, sweet apples, you are not just savoring a classic American dessert. You are enjoying a symbol of America’s enduring promise.
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Original Author: Samuel Kim
Original Location: Defending apple pie