NaBloPoMo: Apples

The prompt: If you were an apple, which type of apple (Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious, etc) would you be and why?

If I were going to stay on topic, I would have to look up all of the varieties to see which adjectives line up with my personality. And I don’t really want to do that. It’s hard enough to decide on which apple to buy at Farmer’s Market, am I right?

Growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in the 1980’s, I had no idea there even existed such a thing as types of apples. We bought apples at the grocery store and they were either red or yellow, usually red. I knew green apples existed for making pie thanks to the fact that my aunt owned a restaurant, but that’s about as far as my apple knowledge extended.

Granted, we had fruit in the house when times were good – red/yellow apples, bananas, green grapes or oranges. Sometimes my Dad would come up with things like “tangelo” and we once had a real pineapple which I found to be very sour. At school, we were served a peach slice or a bit of a pear with a half of a maraschino cherry on top and a lot of syrup. It was delicious, but not in a fruit sort of way – pure sugar syrup.

The most cringeworthy memory was when my mother packed our lunches (she was devoted but awful at it) because she would rinse a big clump of grapes, drop them into one of those kitchen counter trash bags – remember those? gallon size glad bags, before there were ziploc bags – and tie it in a knot, then dump into our lunch pails. I loved grapes, but that was soooo embarrassing because none of the other kids brought their lunch in a trash bag. I think of that to this day when I buy grapes, but now it makes me smile.

I just don’t remember being conscious of fruit. If it was in the house, we ate it and when times were tough, we didn’t miss it. When I attended college, I was astounded at how much fruit was available in the cafeteria, but didn’t venture too far beyond eating bananas and regular red apples. And after that, I couldn’t afford much in the way of fruit.

My real introduction to apple varieties came when Laura took me to Farmer’s Market on the Northside and I met the apple guy. He describes the varieties and offers samples to everyone. I fell in love. He did the same with peaches and plums and pears (pears arent just blobs of white in a styrofoam dish!)  I have a terrible memory for these things so I love that he’ll go over and over it week after week.

Photo from the Northside Farmer's Market.
Photo from the Northside Farmer’s Market.

And grocery stores in 2013 as opposed to 1983 have variety, signage and a real desire to sell me expensive organic locally grown whatever. So I can wander around and find pink ladies and such. Perhaps that was true when I was a kid and I just didn’t care, but my parents tell me that the fruit section was somewhat sparse compared to today’s selections.

The difference can certainly be chalked up to time, but I still think its a significant class issue – who can afford to eat fruit at all, much less be picky about the type of apple. At most food distributions, you take what you can get. The onset of produce distributions and gleaning means clients can access more quantities of fresh produce and I know that the food bank works very hard to get information out into the community on how to prepare the items. Another great advance has been the ability of Farmer’s Markets run by Citiparks to take SNAP (food stamps) in partnership with Just Harvest. What I really like about that is that it offers a dignified option and the ability to choose what you’d like to eat.  It’s called “Fresh Access” which I love.

So I guess I might choose to be a Farmer’s Market apple on a sunny but crisp October afternoon, waiting to introduce a child like me to the concept of fruit variety.

BTW it is National Apple Month!

 

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  • I love apples. It’s been a long time since I took a fruity memory trip. I knew about pie and eating apples from Thanksgiving Day memories. the Little House books reminded me that different apples even smell different. Still, like you, my apple memories are limited to Red Delicious, McIntosh, and Ida Reds (very limited varieties.) Moving to Chicagoland where grocery stores overflow with variety, introduced me to Pink Ladies, Gala, Granny Smith, and on and on. (And that’s just the apple varieties.) And to think, there are fewer apple varieties now than there were before apples became big business.

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