Beware the Bitter Fruit

by Jennifer on April 16, 2013

As we stroll through the produce department of Whole Foods, Baby S’s chunky little toddler arm shot out and snapped back like a pale rubber band. He looked up at me and smiled, both hands proudly gripping a gigantic piece of fruit.

“That’s an orange,” I said, enunciating carefully. Silencing the little voice in my head cautioning me from encouraging him to get grabby in the grocery store and overcoming the wave of frustration I felt at visiting our second grocery store of the morning, I took a deep breath and relaxed into the opportunity to have a teaching moment.

“Do you want that orange?” I asked. Even though I know Baby S does not typically show an interest in food, there’s something about being surrounded by rows of organic free trade produce that always inspires hope that it is possible to have children with appetites and eating habits worthy of a public service announcement. It is why I always end up throwing away rotting apples at the end of the week. I always think THIS will be the week the boys decide they simply must have apples in multiple colors and varieties at every meal.

I felt the excitement at a healthy food discovery creeping up into my stomach. As I looked at Baby S’s sweet face gazing in wonder at the picture-perfect orange in his lap, I just knew that this was the day Baby S would develop his love of fruit. I saw him moving on from fruit to bananas and strawberries and ultimately even transitioning to vegetables (none of which have I ever been able to convince him to try in his two years on this earth).

“Smell it. It smells so good,” I said, lifting the orange toward his nose. “We can get that if you want.”

“Eat?” he asks, my hope for a major food breakthrough reaching a fever pitch.

After explaining that we buy fruit before we eat it since the cost is based on weight and by eating it we would decrease its weight and therefore be stealing, concepts I’m sure he understood completely, I turned to complete my shopping.

Tossing some bananas into the basket, I noticed Baby S had jumped the gun in spite of my explanation and had his little teeth sunk into the bitter outer peel of the orange.


I watched his face screw up with distaste as my hopes for healthy food nirvana dissolved.

Thunk. The orange hit the bottom of the basket with the sound of broken dreams and utter rejection.

“No like orange!”

Damn. Next time skip the lecture on proper fruit buying procedure and just peel the stinkin’ orange.


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Paula J April 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Don’t you just hate it when you shoulda seen it comin’?

Jamie@SouthMainMuse April 17, 2013 at 8:34 am

I bet when he tastes the real thing he’ll change his mind. It’s funny my sister is so disciplined with what she eats but I didn’t know till recently that she doesn’t eat any fruit — except apples. No strawberries, grapes nothing. She never has. But she’s healthy as a healthy horse.
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Samantha Brinn Merel April 17, 2013 at 9:08 am

This is hilarious. If it’s any consolation, my niece wouldn’t eat any fruit at all for two years and all of a sudden, one day she couldn’t get enough and now she runs around the house with tiny fistfuls of strawberries, blueberries, and anything else she can get her hands on.
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Kate April 17, 2013 at 9:20 am

Of course he couldn’t have grabbed an apple or strawberry- something that didn’t need to be peeled! Hope you survived that grocery store trip without further incident :)
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that cynking feeling April 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

I had to buy a bunch of organic carrots when my son took a nibble of one a few weeks ago. Eager to have him finally eat carrots (again-he stopped around 18 months of age), I washed and handed him one when we got home. Unfortunately, I neglected to peel it, so he was totally put off my the texture.
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Christie April 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

Fun to see you on YW today! I seriously thought that oranges from WF had peels that tasted like heaven. Maybe not. Food and kids…the whole subject makes me crazy.

Mamarific April 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Well, I know this is frustrating for you, but it does make for a funny story! My two year old eats yogurt and bread products, and not much else. Nary a vegetable has crossed his lips in weeks. But I keep telling myself it’s just normal toddler stuff, and that he’ll grow up to be a normal person :)
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zoe April 17, 2013 at 5:12 pm

strike while the iron is hot! But those teachy moments are so tempting.

Vanessa April 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm

For what it’s worth, I have a cousin who has made it to adulthood on mashed potatoes, bread, chicken and candy.
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Mary @ A Teachable Mom April 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

“Just peel the stinkin orange” – perfect! I know this fantasy land of organic wonders of which you speak and used to have similar glimpses of nirvana for my children. Now I’m just happy when they eat a vegetable that’s not drowned in cheese. Great post!
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Kirsten Oliphant April 17, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Love this. The food battle and mystery of toddler eating is fabulous.
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Marcy April 18, 2013 at 6:31 am

Funny story. I’m still waiting for one of mine to get over being picky. (He’s 15). Someday…
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Danielle April 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

My oldest is not a picky eater. He will eat just about anything you put in front of him. (He is three.) My youngest has to be in the mood to eat certain things or you have to open like three jars of baby food until he is interested in eating… (He’s nine months.) I have a feeling the baby will be like me.. Super picky… So I feel ya!

Joe (Kellie's World) April 18, 2013 at 10:04 am

Just yesterday I watched as a shopper and a cashier stood dumbfounded trying to figure out how to charge for a half eaten banana. I left before they resolved their dilemma, they were taking so long.
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Kim at Mama Mzungu April 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

yeah, my kids are carb-etarians too. Totally feel your pain at the wasted opportunity. Maybe you can present it as something new and fun by peeling it and presenting the orange slices in a bowl. Maybe he was attracted to the color?
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Larks April 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Oh, the food battles! I loved the part about being eternally optimistic about kids developing a taste for fresh produce and the resulting thrown out apples. We so did that too. But now my kid eats the apples so maybe all those produce lectures and wasted fruit from the early days weren’t all for naught. Fun piece!
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Peach April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Oh, I can just picture that little face! Sigh… hang in there. Great piece.

Natalie April 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Darn, I was holding out hope for you!
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icescreammama April 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm

so funny! and yeah, a fruit in the hand is worth two thrown on the floor of the supermarket. :) maybe if you try peeled, he won’t know it’s the same… :)

IASoupMama April 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Oh, yuck. I hope that he gives the fruit inside a better chance…

My kids eat berries of all types and pineapple and avocadoes like they’re going out of style, but they don’t care for apples or bananas. Go figure…
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