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robertogreco : apples   7

Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation. Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that's a little different, it's normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of qualit
"Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation. Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that's a little different, it's normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of quality. 100+ yrs later we now have purple foamballs.

[quoting: "If I had a time machine I would 100% make sure that the person who named the Red Delicious apple was brought to justice"]

(2/) Weirdly this makes some evolutionary sense. When confronted w a variety of otherwise identical fruit (say, bins of apples at the store), humans go for the darkest red ones.

In nature, that's how you eat the ripe ones & leave bb fruit to mature.

(3/) So. All other things being equal, if you have multiple apple varieties at the store, the darkest red ones tend to sell the fastest. It's not hard to see how that wound up being the priority for deciding which Red Delicious variants to graft.

(4/) Tl;dr a lot of the stuff that the food movement blames on "bad agriculture" or w/e is ... really just the result of a lot of micro-scale human decisions that made sense on their own. Then they snowball into something weird.

(5/) Also when I worked in fruit breeding the weirdest thing would happen. Us in the breeding program would wind up with our favorite cultivars. We liked the ones with a lot of flavor: strong, balanced acidity & sweetness with a lot of aroma.

(6/) There was this one blueberry that had this amazing rich flavor. Thick, jammy with a little bit of blackberry to it. mmmmmm

(7/) But when we actually did the flavor testing? Let civilians eat our new berry crosses?

They LOOOVED the most watery, insipid, shitty berries. Kept giving them top marks, and our favorite big-flavor berries always wound up in the middle.

(8/) IIRC the top-testing blueberry from that program during my time there was Meadowlark. Bless its heart, it's a great bush- but the fruit is a bland-ass water bean. Its max flavor level is a faint whiff of violets.

(9/) Anyway, it seems like every other thinkpiece about ~food these days~ has obligatory remarks on how The Scientists Are Breeding Crops For Durability Instead of Flavor.

lmao fuck that, we keep TRYING to breed for flavor & getting sabotaged by y'all on the taste panels

(10/) Again, there's some really complex human systems stuff going on in our produce markets. Like asking why so many ppl seem to prefer bland fruit. We'd really be able to help ourselves out if we actually ... looked at that?

(11/) But it wraps the story up in a neat little bow to blame ~science~ so sure let's do that instead.

-cut to scientists hissing Gollum-style over the 3 good berry plants from their field trials that never made it to market because The People Have Spoken- 🤣

(12/) Hrmmm replies have turned into a "let's hate on the plebes who don't appreciate fruit like ~we~ do" sesh.

The entire point of this thread was, there's a HUGE spectrum of flavors out there most of us don't ever encounter & we don't know what we don't know.

(13/) Statistically speaking, MOST OF US in the ol' u s of a are secretly one of those majority of people who like shitty bland fruit, AND WE'LL NEVER KNOW IT."
fruit  science  agriculture  2018  sarahtaber  apples  blueberries  grafting  flavor  food  selection  humans  berries  blackberries 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious - The Atlantic
"At the supermarket near his home in central Virginia, Tom Burford likes to loiter by the display of Red Delicious. He waits until he spots a store manager. Then he picks up one of the glossy apples and, with a flourish, scrapes his fingernail into the wax: T-O-M.

“We can’t sell that now,” the manager protests.

To which Burford replies, in his soft Piedmont drawl: “That’s my point.”

Burford, who is 79 years old, is disinclined to apple destruction. His ancestors scattered apple seeds in the Blue Ridge foothills as far back as 1713, and he grew up with more than 100 types of trees in his backyard orchard. He is the author of Apples of North America, an encyclopedia of heirloom varieties, and travels the country lecturing on horticulture and nursery design. But his preservationist tendencies stop short of the Red Delicious and what he calls the “ramming down the throats of American consumers this disgusting, red, beautiful fruit.”

His words contain the paradox of the Red Delicious: alluring yet undesirable, the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States. It lurks in desolation. Bumped around the bottom of lunch bags as schoolchildren rummage for chips or shrink-wrapped Rice Krispies treats. Waiting by the last bruised banana in a roadside gas station, the only produce for miles. Left untouched on hospital trays, forlorn in the fruit bowl at hotel breakfast buffets, bereft in nests of gift-basket raffia.

For at least 70 years, the Red Delicious has dominated apple production in the United States. But since the turn of the 21st century, as the market has filled with competitors—the Gala, the Fuji, the Honeycrisp—its lead has been narrowing. Annual output has plunged. And even still, a gap is growing between supply and demand from American consumers. Earlier this month, Todd Fryhover, the president of the Washington Apple Commission—whose growers produce the majority of apples in the United States—recommended that this harvest, up to two-thirds of the state’s Red Delicious yield be exported.

How did such an unlikeable apple become the most ubiquitous in the country? And as its dominion here ends, where will it invade next?

* * *

If you want to make an allegory of the Red Delicious, you might see in it the story of America: confident intrusion on inhabited soil, opportunity won in a contest of merit, success achieved through hard work, integrity pulverized in the machinery of industrial capitalism. In the 1870s, Jesse Hiatt, an Iowa farmer, discovered a mutant seedling in his orchard of Yellow Bellflower trees. He chopped it down, but the next season, it sprang back through the dirt. He chopped it down again. It sprang back again. “If thee must grow,” he told the intrepid sprout, “thee may.”"
apples  fruit  sarahyager  2014  reddelicious  agriculture  capitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Bring back the strange apples! - Ideas - The Boston Globe
"A dizzying variety of fruit once grew in and near Boston. Now, our rare breeds might be poised for a comeback"

"The idea of an elaborate monument to an apple—a commonplace fruit in most people’s minds—seems almost comical today, but that just shows how impoverished our concept of the apple has become. Until their fall from grace during the 20th century, apples were some of the leading protagonists in the story of American ingenuity, diversity, and prosperity. They gave the young country much of its regional flavor, and no region displayed more of that flavor than Boston. The region’s orchardists grew hundreds of varieties of apples. Each was propagated for its unique strengths, whether for booze or for baking, and each had an ardent following.

With the temperance movement, Prohibition, and industrialization, all that changed. Many of the trees were cut down, while others were simply abandoned to the returning woods. By the middle of last century, the world of small-scale apple diversity succumbed to the agribusiness model of giant monoculture orchards and national supply chains. Many great apple varieties were lost in the process.

But not all. Apples are very long-lived, patient beings, and New England has held onto more of its small farms than most regions of the country. Today, those old orchards and backyard trees are helping to bring some of our oldest apple exemplars back into vogue. If recent trends hold, Boston could again become the heart of a thriving apple subculture, and that Baldwin monument may not seem so odd after all."

"This diverse garden of Eden began to wither in the 20th century, with the rise of vast industrial orchards in Washington state and the national distribution network needed to get those apples to market. In the sunny, irrigated deserts of eastern Washington, apples grew larger, sweeter, and cheaper than back east. Washington growers settled on Red Delicious, a new variety that produced bumper crops of fruit every year, with skin so thick and red, and flesh so dry, that it could withstand the shocks of storage and trucking and still look great in stores.

First the family-farm orchards, with their many varieties, yielded to the convenience of the one-size-fits-all supermarket apple. Then the Northeastern commercial orchards went under as well. Baldwin’s fall came in the winter of 1934. One of many apple varieties with biennial tendencies—huge crops one year, scant ones the next—it was always ill-suited to the economics of factory farming. When a stretch of minus-40 nights killed most of the Baldwin trees in the Northeast, Red Delicious from out west quickly filled the gap in the supply chain.

That wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t buy those apples, but we did. One generation removed from the farm, we’d lost our apple smarts. We consistently chose the reddest apples we could find, and supermarkets learned their lesson well. Those colorful Boston markets of the 1800s devolved into the A&Ps of the mid-1900s, slotted year-round with mealy Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, with maybe a brief stack of Macintosh each fall to break up the monotony. A few old-timers undoubtedly pined for their Baldwins, or regaled their grandkids with stories of proper pies, but the next generation simply wondered why anyone had ever enjoyed apples at all.

And so we forgot. We forgot that an apple didn’t have to be red and shiny. We forgot that a good apple pie requires firm, tart apples that flaunt the “racy and wild American flavors” Thoreau prized, and that a great pie demands a mix of varieties. We forgot the luxury of sinking our teeth into a dense, rich Tolman Sweet after dinner on a cold November night. We forgot that a glass of crisp, dry hard cider on a summer day is a quintessential New England experience."

"Yet in a way Honeycrisp is just as formulaic as Red Delicious. It’s a better formula, to be sure, but now every apple released by the industry follows the same script. Like a Hollywood blockbuster, it must have lots of pyrotechnics and sugar, with only token tartness. It can’t have any quirks or challenging aspects that ask too much of the consumer.

Honeycrisps are undeniably delicious, but when we expect every apple to crackle like a fruity Cheeto, we’re stymied by the ones that don’t. Handing a Roxbury Russet to a kid raised on Honeycrisps is like asking an aficionado of the Iron Man movies to chew on “Citizen Kane.” If we can expand our vision of Malus domestica to incorporate some of the masterpieces known by earlier New Englanders, we have a chance to rediscover some pre-lapsarian pleasures."
fruit  apples  rowanjacobsen  food  history  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Over Optimized | Quiet Babylon
"I keep thinking about the impending extinction of the Cavendish Banana a… mono-culture… propelled to the #1 spot when the previous favourite, the Gros Michel Banana was wiped out, also by disease. And of the injuries (careful about clicking that link) sustained by Super-G skiers when their highly optimized gear turns against them during a crash. And of Koalas which have evolved to eat a tree no one else eats and who will die off when the trees do.

Then I think about apples which come in a variety of types, casual skiers who make it to the bottom of the hill eventually and raccoons who will eat just about anything. These are all generalists that manage to thrive in a variety of areas, and seem to be pretty good at adapting to massive changes to their environments."

"…When things are stable, specialization and optimization is the recipe for success. When things are bumpy, allowing some of the inefficiency that comes from flexibility is probably the thing that will let you survive."
2008  timmaly  markets  inefficiency  overoptimization  adaptability  resilience  survival  slack  optimization  sustainability  animals  raccoons  koalas  skiing  diversity  bananas  apples  generalists  specialization 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Hocking Hills Cabins, Four Seasons Cabins in the Hocking Hills
"The apple varieties in this group all have flesh that ranges in color from bright pink (Pink Pearl) to beet red (Clifford) to pink stained (Taunton Cross) to orange (Apricot Apple)! Another unique thing about the apples in this group is that their blossoms range from solid light pink to solid crimson pink as compared to the white blossoms of other apples. Imagine biting into a bright yellow apple and seeing bright pink. With these apples you can make pink apple jelly, pink apple cider and pink apple pie. The flavors range from sweet (Pink Pearmain) to tart (Pink Pearl) just like other apples. More than just a novelty, they are great eating."
apples  srg  edg  glvo  fruit  food 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Ambassador of Fruit | Orion Magazine
"An Iranian pomologist transforms an Idaho landscape and helps its growers stay in business"
fruit  agriculture  farming  idaho  grapes  apples  iran 
august 2009 by robertogreco

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