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Apple exasperation, or, How'd I get to be the grasshopper?

>> Friday, November 13, 2009

Please forgive me today's tirade - it really is one big, long, grouchy whine, but:

Why, oh why, is it so hard to find an unwaxed, organic, New York State apple???

I do so love apple season.  Crunchy, sweet, tangy.  I tend to go for the tart ones, but any apple will do so long as it's not a Red Delicious, which I am not convinced should even be called an apple.  Mushy apple = bleeeeeeeeech. 

Spouse and I betook ourselves to the Ithaca Farmers' Market a while back, and found a farm stand there that had absolutely, spectacularly delicious everything.  Organic, local, all that jazz.  I got some of the best spinach I have ever eaten in my life there.  They even had a painfully cute Bernese Mountain dog puppy in tow, rolling about all fluffy and floppy.  He was not for sale, thankfully, or I probably would have bought him, too, and stuffed him in the back seat of the car with the Basset hounds.  (Our awesome old dog who died about a year and a half ago was half Berner, and I have a wicked soft spot for them).

That farm stand's apples were to die for, and we bought several dozen.  I was in the mood to purchase bushels of the things for eating, freezing, and baking, but saw that they didn't have terribly many left and was conservative in my purchase, idiot that I am.  I also failed to ask them if we could get more from them.  There were surprisingly few apples for sale at the Ithaca Farmers' Market, or we would have bought some from other folks, too.  Of course, the apples we did get were so good that we plowed through them in a shockingly short time.

We went to the Regional Market in Syracuse for a couple of successive weekends after that, and found a few organic apples at the one organic produce stand there.  They were good, but not nearly as good as the Ithaca ones.  And now that stand is about out.

Which leaves me...


In autumn.

In Central New York.

Which strikes me as being ludicrous.  And exceedingly irritating.

Wegman's is our grocery store of choice, mostly because they do a better job than a lot of their competitors when it comes to organic produce and local produce, although those two seldom seem to overlap.  But a stroll through Weggies yesterday evening left me feeling Decidedly Disgruntled.  The vast majority of the apples were not from New York State.  But, wait - we're IN New York State, surrounded by apple orchards.  Is it really cheaper to purchase apples from Washington State and ship them across the country?  Our modern day food distribution network sucks from an environmental point of view.  Or are there no more New York State apples left?  Apparently one or the other or both. 

And of course, every single apple in the grocery store is coated in "food grade wax" to "preserve freshness".  First of all, the idea of eating wax at all is just icky.  But second, food grade wax is largely made from corn,  because corn is so heavily subsidized that everything possible is made out of it.  Do you know who cannot tolerate eating corn, even in tiny doses?  Yours truly.  It makes me feel incredibly crummy, with digestive discomfort and a variety of symptoms you surely don't want to know about. 

I can technically peel and slice those waxed apples if I do so veeerry carefully.  Even so, I tend to get trace amounts of corn that are transferred from the peeler, or the knife, or maybe even soak in through the skin.  It's less than ideal, and means I miss out on that incredible satisfaction one gets from just biting into a big juicy apple.

I also refuse to buy apples from the other side of the continent and support the gratuitous burning of all that diesel fuel to get them here, when there are local orchards that could use the support.

I can't seem to find a local organic farm to pick apples at.  I need to start looking harder.  Perhaps the Bernese Mountain Dog Farm allows people to pick apples?  Or even sells bushels directly at the farm?  It would help if I had made an effort to remember the name of the farm rather than just referring to it as the "Bernese Mountain Dog Farm". 

Sadly, we can't make it to Ithaca this weekend, and it's gotten past prime New York State apple season through no one's fault but my own, which doesn't make me any less grouchy.  I spent too many autumn weekends playing in the mountains, and not enough time working on my winter food stores.  Yup, just call me the grasshopper.  (You remember the old Aesop's Fable about the ant who builds up food stores all summer, and the grasshopper who plays all summer and has no food come fall.)  In fact, I think knowing I can largely blame myself for this predicament just makes me grouchier. 

Further investigation is definitely called for, if nothing else so I can have my fill of apples next autumn.  For now, though, it's looking like I may be appleless until next apple season.

Unless, of course, I find some diligent ant whose food stores I can raid...


Ellen Rathbone November 14, 2009 at 9:44 AM  

OH, I couldn't agree more! I find that the majority of the organic produce at the stores in Glens Falls comes from S. America or New Zealand! Like you, I am torn between supporting this ridiculous trade and having healthy food to eat. This is why I have a large veg garden and am slowly building up my own orchard. Unfortunately, the stuff I need to keep in stock as fresh (spinach, greens, peppers, celery, carrots) I either cannot grow, or I can only grow in the summer - which means 3/4 of the year I don't have it unless I buy it.

And yet - why is locally grown so much more expensive?!? I mean, $4 for a bunch of carrots? $6 for a bag of greens? I suspect many of the vendors at the farmers' markets (which are located mostly around places like Lake Placid) are pricing their produce to sell to the exclusive (financially well-off) audiences of the resort areas. The rest of the populace, sadly, shops at Walmart.

Not that I begrudge them their profit, and I do realize that they are putting in a lot of hard labor to bring us good produce - and they aren't paying hired hands slave wages to do so (or, at least I hope not).

I found on-line that the orchard in Schuylerville does grow a limited number of "biologique" apples - available upon request. I think next year I will inquire.

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