When I was a kid, I thought there were only three kinds of apples: red, yellow, and green, which it turns out were Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith, respectively. Nothing else was available.
These days, for my kids, a “red” apple isn’t a Red Delicious. Nor is it really red. Honeycrisp, Gala, Braeburn, and Stayman Winesap, for example, are varying mixtures of red, yellow, and green. These varieties, and many others, are now easy to find at the store. It’s more fun to pick them from the tree, though. There’s nothing better than a sunny fall day at the orchard.
Recently, to commemorate the season, we read Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore! (I Can Read! Level 1), in which our fictional friend Nancy visits an apple orchard on a class trip. They pick loads of Jonathan and Honeycrisp apples, but Nancy hopes to find Gala, which she assumes is a fancy type of apple because “a gala is a fancy party.” It also happens to be her father’s favorite variety. My daughters enjoyed the story and reminisced about their own class trip to an orchard earlier this month. When Lionel, Nancy’s trip buddy, ignores the rules and gets himself into trouble, one of my daughters recalled how her own buddy decided unilaterally to play hide-and-seek at the orchard. I’m so glad I wasn’t a chaperone!
So far, our family has visited our favorite orchard four times this season. It’s a fun activity that gets the kids outdoors, teaches them where our food comes from, and encourages them to eat more fresh fruits. I’d love to say that I bake all kinds of delicious apple treats, but apart from the occasional apple crisp, which is the easiest dessert to make in the entire world, I haven’t done much baking this season. So, basically, we eat a lot of apples, often more than one per day.*
While I doubt “an apple (or two) a day will keep the doctor away” for long during cold and flu season, there does seem to be weight to this proverb, the earliest version of which was recorded in the 1860s. Science backs up the long-term health benefits of apples. Studies suggest that apples may help maintain weight loss, alleviate inflammation, reverse or halt cognitive decline in normal aging, and reduce the risk of asthma, stroke, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease, among other potential health benefits.
My kids, of course, don’t care about any of these benefits. They are typical kids with typical tastes, and so far, they haven’t tried an apple they didn’t like. I wonder what they would’ve thought about the overproduced, super-sweet “red” apples I used to eat as a kid. It was good when I didn’t know any better.
*We also give a lot of apples away.
**If anyone’s ever in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, I highly recommend visiting Solebury Orchards. All of the pictures in this post were taken there.