Many texts on apples quote the old adage that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but in modern times, has the quality of an apple been redefined?
During my travels, I have seen cull fruit in pack houses destined for low cost anaerobic digestion feed through to apples individually wrapped in UV filters and later a white bag destined to be picked, polished, wrapped and placed in an individual carton tailored for the very top end Chinese market.
My belief is that our perception of quality of eating apples has dictated to us by retailers, which in turn is always geared towards price.
A remarkable science has developed which tracks retinal behaviour of shoppers during that all important buying decision. Consumer’s eyes focus is tracked to assess packaging / product / price hot spots so it is no surprise that visual appearance has become the primary quality attribute for apples. This has led to the demise of many traditional English varieties such as Cox as the industry has been forced to react to this with introduction of new varieties and cocktails of various chemicals to achieve perfect colouring and unblemished skin finish. Prioritisation continues through size, shape, storability and Year round availability to suit their retail model, brand name, bite, texture, juiciness and only then taste, nutrition and origin. Little wonder that the USDA report up to 40% nutrient losses in apples over Forty Years!
So next time you choose an apple, think about where it comes from and how it was grown!