Monday, November 9, 2009

Verlyn Klinkenborg: "Apples, Apples, Apples"

Timing is everything.

On Friday morning, I had two apples for breakfast that I had just bought from Jim Kent. One was a Winter Banana, which I had tasted before, and the other was a Blushing Golden, a new variety for me. Both were mostly yellow and delicious, but their exact colors and flavors were slightly different.

According to, the Winter Banana is “[g]reen ripening to yellow, cheek overlaid with pinkish-brown. Firm, crisp, juicy flesh with the distinctive aromatic flavor for which it is named,” while the Blushing Golden is “yellow with up to 50% of the fruit surface covered with a dirty orange-pink blush,” and has “yellowish white [flesh] with a subacid flavor and a fermented aftertaste.”

Coincidentally, about an hour later, I opened The New York Times and read a short essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg, one of my favorite writers. Klinkenborg, who focuses on nature and rural topics, discussed apple varieties, using the fruit as a metaphor for our modern food supply:

“For part of our history, culminating around the end of the 19th century, there was something about us — about our appetite, our farms, our economy — that loved diversity in apples. One standard reference, from 1905, lists more than 6,500 distinct varieties.”
Unfortunately, according to Klinkenborg, times have changed:
“Modern agriculture, as well as our carefully created preference for processed over fresh food, has pushed us in the opposite direction, toward uniformity . . . According to one estimate, only 11 varieties make up 90 percent of all the apples sold in this country, and Red Delicious alone counts for nearly half of that.”
Click here to read Klinkenborg’s brief essay.

1 comment:

Lori Hinze Gill said...

so true...standarized testing in schools, why not standarized food in the grocery stores...

oh how I miss all those beautiful, delicious apples from the farmers market!!

enjoying a honeycrisp at the moment...yum!