Friday, November 23, 2007

Juicy Fruit

photo by southernpixel

Apples are a fall season fruit that stores well into the early winter. We've all heard that they're nutritious - eat at least one a day and you'll not see the MD as the saying goes. And according to my daughter's unofficial survey of vegetable-hating fourth graders, apples are loved by pretty much everybody. Except maybe Snow White. Talk about lousy publicity. Of course, "they" also say any publicity is good publicity.

Apples originated in Central Asia where their wild ancestor still can be found in places like Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Apples are not usually cultivated by seed. A special technique called grafting produces apple trees with a promising root stock and a branch from a mature tree with desirable apples. One reason apple are not often produced from seed, is that the seeds require quite of bit of work to germinate. First they must be scarified which means wearing the hard covering off. Then they have to be babied through the germination process carefully. Once you get a seedling, it will take many years to develop fruit. The fruit may or may not resemble the original apple in any way.

Apples are a late autumn fruit in cooler climes which stores well through the winter without losing too much of its nutritional value. Many foods are not so lucky. They must be eaten as close to harvest to avoid losing their nutritional appeal. My daughter says that apples are juicy, yummy and colorful which makes them interesting. Apple juice is often the juice of choice for babies through adults. And apple cider vinegar has been blamed for longevity for, well, a long time.

Let's look at what an apple has. Vitamin C definitely. That will help ward off colds and combat fatigue. Vitamin C is part of an apple's antioxident package which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Phenolics, a type of antioxident found in apples, can protect nerve cells from neurotoxicity induced by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is involved in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Apples also contain an assortment of B vitamins with their fiber and sugar content. Apples are a far more nutritious and sweet than, say, an apple flavored hard candy. They only have 80 calories on average. Apples also contain pectin which helps gell fruit and supports your digestive tract by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. This miracle fruit is known to promote healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Apples are in season, so they should cost less right now. Many small growers in Washington State and other places, self brand their apples. These may cost a bit more, but the local farmer receives a better price for a superior product. Some examples of small farms who are surviving can be found in films such as My Father's Garden shown on LinkTV, or websites like Bill Pace Fruit & Produce or in places like Whole Foods. There are even a few folks in the local area who grow apples. This year's weather pretty much cancelled out the apple harvest, but next year, I'll be looking for apples at the Ashland City Open Air Market.

And now, a quick kid friendly recipe suggested by my daughter as the best way to eat apples.

Slice an organic apple into long slices
spread with organic peanut butter or dip it in the peanut butter
sprinkle organic raisins on top
Eat, eat and eat.
Then eat some more.
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