Sunday, October 14, 2007

hot pink organic food

Vanilla Cupcakes with Organic Lemon Raspberry Frosting

These cupcakes I baked last week served as a useful reminder that even the best marketing tactics cannot reverse the damage of poor product design. I could create the earthiest looking package, printed with nutrition facts in enormous text and maybe an endorsement from Alice Waters, and still you would be hard-pressed to believe that these cupcakes are all-natural, made with organic fruit. In fact, you might just wonder whether Alice Waters has lost her way.

The real story doesn't matter - the one where I pureed the organic raspberries and zested the organic lemons in my kitchen, and whisked the fruit mixture into my bowl of handmade buttercream frosting until I achieved the perfect balance of sweet, creamy, and tangy.

These cupcakes are hot pink, and that says it all - assume artificial flavoring, high fructose corn syrup, Red 40...processed. Welcome to the era of the savvy consumer - we know how to spot fake food when we see it, and we're not afraid to judge.

Which poses an interesting dilemma for the natural food business, I realize. Do food scientists and marketers in natural foods actually have to design their products to look "natural"? (Is it not enough for the product to be intrinsically so?) Can an all-natural cupcake ever be topped with an all-natural hot pink frosting, or are such natural baked goods restricted to the earth-toned glazes of maple, chocolate, and vanilla?

1 comment:

Molly Gilbert said...

I believe it because I can see the rhaspberry seeds in the frosting