Apples

Photo credit – Debbie R

I am often struck by how powerful it is to put assumptions aside, pause, and take a closer look at things. You can apply that to everything from politics to apples. Since I will not discuss politics, I want to talk about apples. This interest in apples is thanks to a friend who wrote a wonderful middle grade book about apples that forced me to rethink this common fruit.

When we go to the grocery store we see the same 5-10 varieties of apples in the produce aisle. Yet there are more than 7,500 types of apples worldwide, 2,500 of which are grown in the US! Ever heard of a dazzle? How about an envy, kanzi, Lady Alice, pazazz, or a smitten? Me neither!

Only one type of apple is native to North America…the crabapple. Not only that, apple pie is not native to the US either. Its origins are in England at a time when sugar was too expensive to use in a pie, so figs or other sweet fruits were used instead. Despite that, apple pie is the most popular pie in the US. Personally, I’d take an apple crumble!

Apples originated in Kazakhstan and were domesticated between 4,000–10,000 years ago. They were later moved east by traders via the Silk Road and then colonists who moved to North America in the 17th century brought apples with them. Johnny Appleseed was, in fact, a real person not just a man of legend. He developed apple trees across the US over the course of fifty years, starting in the late 1700s.

And finally, my re-examination of the mighty apple has also revealed that the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is not without merit. Apples contain vitamin C and fiber (but you have to eat the peel!), and they help balance gut bacteria. Studies have also shown that apples lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Now I need to figure out where to get the rarer varieties of apples and do a taste test!