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Apples

Posted by Patrick on September 18, 2013

People love apples. It’s the most popular fruit in our produce department, and the second most popular fruit item in the US, rarely beating out the mighty banana.  I’ve always heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but I do have a pretty good throwing arm. While they certainly won’t cure blunt trauma from thrown fruit, each apple packs a serious punch of fiber and nutrition in a package that contains very little sugar.

apples
This apple stole this table from a doctor.


I have seen sugar-phobia scaring people away from the fruit, and that is a shame. Your average apple contains approximately 20-25 grams of sugar. This can sound like a lot, but it’s not (and the apple comes in under 100 calories) - especially when you consider the fact that each apple provides you with about 20% of your daily fiber intake, and zero fat.

Plus, the burst of fiber the apple gives allows the body time to properly absorb and utilize the all-natural fructose contained within, giving you sustained energy in a nutrient-rich package.

You see, when you consume fructose (the sugar in fruit), it doesn’t metabolize like glucose and your other sugars. Glucose and sucrose go into the blood and get used by the body directly. Fructose has to go to the liver first, where unused sugar is rapidly turned to fat on the liver, which is a bad thing.

But eating an apple is not a bad thing, despite the fact that it’s loaded with fructose. Why?

Well, when you eat an apple, it’s full of fiber, which keeps the fructose moving slowly through the large intestine, which pulls it into the bloodstream. Therefore, the fiber prevents the sugar-spike that’s so detrimental to your health, all while providing you with sustained healthy energy throughout the day.

So the lowly apple is as ever-deserving of the “superfood” moniker as are many high profile high-dollar meal-makers.

Plus, they’re portable, delicious, and can stand short periods without refrigeration, making them an excellent supply for school lunches and mid-day snacks.

 

2apples
Sometimes, they’ll gang up on you.


But, where do apples come from?

Apple trees.

Okay, so, that’s easy. But apple trees are not. Most seeds from an apple tree do not “breed true,” an apple seed may grow a fruit that does not at all resemble it’s parent apple - throwing out seeds from one variety may result in fruit that is sour, inedible, or gnarled. These wild types are often referred to as “spitters,” which is what you’ll do if you take a bite.

Old timers had a use for these sour apples, squeezing out the juice and fermenting it into delicious apple cider. These days, apples are grown specifically for cider cultivation.

Now when an apple farmer finds a particularly good wild variety, or breeds an interesting hybrid, or even finds a magically delicious branch on an otherwise un-tasty tree, he doesn’t go to the apple to save the seeds. No, he takes a cutting, creating a genetic clone of the original tasty fruit-bearing plant.

Entire farms are made from the cuttings of a single tree, endless rows of identical plants putting out the same fruit each time.

Well, almost. You see, plant genetics can be as intertwined and variegated as a Pearl River briar bog. So while an entire tree might produce nothing but pure bred Fuji apples, a single branch might suddenly mutate into something tastier, plumper, or suddenly green. It’s called a “Bud Sport,” which is not a game you play with friends.

 

tripapple
The cast of ‘‘House’’ was here a moment ago.


Those of you who have an inkling into the evolutionary arms race between plant and pest may see a problem with this arrangement: The pests constantly come up with new exciting ways to prey on the identical apple trees, which, all being the same genetic specimens, are always vulnerable.

So in many a farm setting, apples are heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and more, including antibiotics. This routinely places apples in “dirty dozen” lists of fruits and vegetables of which it is most important to buy organic.

You may ask yourself, “Wait, antibiotics in trees?”

Yes. The disease Fire Blight,which is caused by bacteria doing what they do, can wipe out an entire apple or pear orchard in a single season. Since it takes 12 years to get a pear tree to maturity and six for an apple tree, most orchardists rely on antibiotics to sustain their crops. This is currently leading to antibiotic-resistant strains of fire blight, and the use of antibiotics is so widespread that, currently, even organic operators are allowed to use two types of antibiotic on apple and pear crops, under the National Organic Plan.

You may have heard about this, for example, in our good friend Jim Pathfinder Ewing’s piece in the Jackson Free Press.

However, I should stress that most crops of organic apples are not treated by antibiotics at all. Even when they are infected by fire blight, under the National Organic Plan there is a strict permitting process for determining need and making sure that other controls are attempted first.

While the overuse of antibiotics is a real social and scientific concern, you the eater shouldn’t worry about getting these antibiotics into your system from eating organic apples. Fire blight occurs at blooming time, not at fruiting time, so the fruit itself is never sprayed. The antibiotics used have an incredibly short life in the field, breaking down into harmless compounds within the day. Tests to find these antibiotics and their residues in fruit have never found any, either.

So, I wouldn’t let this worrisome news prevent you from enjoying a nice healthy organic apple. But if you’re concerned, as I am, about antibiotic overuse and resistance, you can feel better knowing that, thanks to concerned citizens and public pressure, the rules allowing antibiotic treatment of pears and apples are going to end after the 2014 crop, after which you can be sure that your organic apples and pears have never been treated with antibiotics.

 

lotofapples
This is not the first time I’ve stopped an entire class of medical school students from graduating.

Health and Beauty

September Employee of the Month

Posted by shelby on September 06, 2013

Rainbow’s Employee of the Month is Cass from our Health & Beauty Department. Cass has worked extremely hard during the renovation of her department, and the work isn’t finished yet!


cass small