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farmer jo: 
(or pear) a day
by Joanna Piatek
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Did you know that there are over 2,500 varieties of apples? Yet only about 5 of those are offered in the local supermarket? You can recognize a typical supermarket apple straightaway by its super-glossy sheen, and its cardboard flavor. Yum! In the past, growers have chosen to move away from the more flavorful -- but also more perishable --varieties, for the sake of appearance. But with the growing popularity of farmer’s markets and roadside farm stands, people are becoming educated to the tangy fact that an apple doesn’t have to be a perfect red sphere to be wonderful. There are tons of apple types, sizes, colors and flavors available. A bite of almost any one will allow you to truly taste fall. So when it comes to choosing apples, my philosophy is simple: branch out!

Apples have been enjoyed throughout history. The best-known story tells how a woman in Eden would rather have an apple than, well, Eden. Eve must have been onto something because ever since, the apple has held an esteemed position. Apples were the favorite fruit of the Greeks and Romans. Ancient charred remains of the fruit have been found in prehistoric Greece, and all around Europe. Though the native home of the apple is not known for certain, the tree (along with its relatives the pear and the rose) probably originated around the Caspian and the Black seas.

The story of the apple’s arrival to the New World has been preserved in folklore, most popularly in the song of Johnny Appleseed. It turns out that the song told the tale pretty well – about a man who brought apple trees to North America when he came here to settle – but with a slight bias. True, early settlers brought apple seeds with them from Europe. Missionaries, traders, and Native Americans then carried seeds westward to more settlers. John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, was responsible for extensive cultivation of apple trees in the Midwestern United States, but, contrary to what the legend might tell, he wasn’t the one who brought apples to the United States.

In the time that’s passed since the days of Mr. Appleseed, the apple has become a quintessential part of America’s cuisine. What could be more American than apple pie? What else promises to keep the doctor away?

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