APPLE WOES….Via Ann Althouse, the Washington Post answers a question today that’s been on my mind for a while: why do Red Delicious apples taste so lousy these days? I could swear they used to taste better in my childhood, but we think that about pretty much everything, don’t we?
Well, it turns out they did taste better in my childhood:
In the 1980s heyday of the Red Delicious, it represented three-quarters of the harvest in Washington state, epicenter of the apple industry. By 2000, it made up less than half, and in 2003, the crop had shrunk to just 37 percent of the state’s harvest….
Who’s to blame for the decline of Red Delicious? Everyone, it seems. Consumers were drawn to the eye candy of brilliantly red apples, so supermarket chains paid more for them. Thus, breeders and nurseries patented and propagated the most rubied mutations, or “sports,” that they could find, and growers bought them by the millions, knowing that these thick-skinned wonders also would store for ages.
The result was lousy tasting apples. There’s also this:
The decline of one of the most widely grown apples in history is momentous to observers like [apple historian Lee] Calhoun. Unlike, say, the McIntosh, a wildling that made its way into commerce slowly, the Red Delicious was groomed for stardom from birth.
Ah, the wonderful McIntosh, my favorite apple. You can have your Galas, your Jazzes, and your Fujis, just give me my lovely McIntoshes. And “wildling” sounds so romantic!
Unfortunately, my local Gelson’s no longer carries McIntosh apples. Why? I’m told that fruit has something called “seasons,” and is therefore only available when it’s “in season.” Can this “season theory” really be the cause of my McIntosh drought? It seems like remarkably poor planning. Or is it just that Gelson’s has decided to stop carrying McIntoshes? I guess I should ask. In the meantime, I’ve been reduced to eating Jazz apples for lunch. They aren’t bad, but they’re no McIntosh.