Granny Smith, Macintosh, Delicious, Crab Apple, Snow Apples, Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji

An Apple a Day

By —— Bio and Archives--October 21, 2017

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If only it were as simple as “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Nutrition scientists are in fact constantly scrutinizing the health properties of foods, advises National Geographic‘s Catherine Zuckerman.

All well and good but apples are the world’s third favourite, pipped at the post by mangoes and bananas. And while June is Mango Month and March proclaimed Banana Month, October is not only National Apple Month in the U.S.A. but the 16th is International Eat an Apple Day followed by International Apple Day on 21st October.

There appears to be some confusion as to the true identity of the Garden of Eden’s apple. Canadians, is has been suggested, are convinced it was a McIntosh—who else would stand next to a naked woman and eat an apple?. Elsewhere the fruit that got Adam and Eve booted from the Garden of Eden has been claimed to have been a date, fig, apricot, orange, pomegranate or even a banana. Somewhat later, when the lover in Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs’ demanded to be comforted with apples, instead she meant apricots.

The ancient Greeks, however called an apple and apple—and “tossing apples” was their euphemism for sexual intercourse. Across the Adriatic the Romans, expert horticulturalists, named Pomona as their goddess of fruit trees. Hence today an orchardist may be dignified with the designation pomologist.

By whatever route they got to the Garden of Eden, apples fit for eating originated in central Asia. The only form native to North America is the crab apple. Which might seem strange since today apples are the official fruit of six states: Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and. Illinois. But not of Iowa, where a farmer named Hiatt introduced the ‘Delicious’ apple, now the most grown variety in the U.S.

In Canada, John McIntosh introduced his ever-popular variety McIntosh Apple from Ontario banks of the St. Lawrence River in the 1870s. Eating apples had been introduced into Canada well over two centuries by early French settlers and into Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley around 1633. The first variety was the ‘Fameuse’ or ‘Snow’ apple. Today Ontario is the country’s leading apple growing province, along with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Another popular variety that is named for its founder, the ‘Granny Smith,’ was discovered during the 1850s by Australian Maria Ana Smith 1850s on her rubbish pile in New South Wales.

The top apple-producing countries are China, U.S.A., Turkey, Poland and Italy. In those nations and elsewhere around the world 7,500 varieties are said to be grown with a mere 2,500 in U.S. The core varieties there are, in order, Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji. No where near the tops in international apple production are either Austria or Germany, both of which claim apples as their national fruit.

Catherine Zuckerman might find consolation in that the proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is of recent English origin. In fact, less than a century ago from the 1920s—but a study from 2015 has disproved it. In fact, apple seeds contain a cyanide compound. Fortunately, it would take a considerable amount for those considering their use to shuffle of this mortal coil.

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Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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