Thursday, October 11, 2012

an apple a day

Apples are not just fruit.  A predominant literary and cultural symbol, apples span the distance from science to the bible, Newton to Eve, both times a conduit for human knowledge. Greek myths of Paris and Atalanta feature tempting apples, as American myths of Johnny Appleseed abound. They are also a symbol of the harvest, a late summer taste of sweetness to hold you close for the coming winter, and of health, keeping the doctors at bay when consumed daily.  The apple is on a pedestal across genres.

And picking the all-mighty apple becomes the quintessential autumn escape to paradise: fresh air, open spaces, green things, idyllic pastures, even a gentle doe at the farm, not to mention the green and red fruit itself.

Walking back to the rows and rows of apple trees, pulling a red wagon and wrapping myself against the cold, damp day, I started smiling. It's just so cool, picking an apple off a tree. And in that very "coolness" comes an essential element of eating: the aspect of seeing the origins of our food. There is nothing quite so visceral as reaching into the leaves, emerging with an apple, and taking a giant, tart bite. It feels primitive, good, and for some of us urbanites, is the closest we get to nature for a while.

Nature is not necessarily present in the grocery store, the most common purveyor of our foodstuffs. Grocery stores are awesome, bountiful places. Meat, cheese, produce, eggs, dairy, baked goods, canned goods, dry goods - the plethora of choices and food stuffs is overwhelming and delighting. It is, however, hard to distinguish where an apple comes from if it is shrink wrapped in a bag next to 5 or 6 other apples. It's hard to smell an apple's scent after it's been refrigerated and transported over a few days, hard to see the leaves and branches that produced the fruit. And the connection to the food itself is diminished by the ready availability of whatever we want, whenever we want, regardless of seasonality. The very specialness of understanding the origins of our food doesn't exist when the path is hidden from view.

So maybe this explains the ever expanding zeal for farming. A quest to reconnect to what we eat, and what our senses require for sustenance. It's empowering and awe-inspiring to see a tree at work, even though it's been doing the same exact thing for thousands of years, germinating, blossoming, and being fruitful.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Brandi! I always love seeing your name pop up in comments - thank you.