Yesterday on Facebook I was invited to chat with a young man I have known since he was about 12. I would guess he is around 30 now. I was living overseas with his parents when he was just a boy. I was surprised and happy to speak with him. He was writing because he had read my blog about Chilean apples and he just happens to now work for, a Chilean apple company. After all our family inquiry we discussed the importance of apple export to Chile as well as the high price people in Chile are even willing to pay for Washington apples during their off season. I knew that Chile had spent years developing their apple export business. I explained I have nothing against Chilean apples I just think they should eat their apples and we should eat ours. There are plenty of countries in South American to export to, right? Well not really he said. He said Chile depends on northern countries to import apples.
The issue here is not really apples. It’s about how apples fit into our theory of “living green”. We can not talk about fossil fuel consumption as if it is the devil, drive a Prius and then eat an organic apple with a 3,000 mile plus footprint. You’d be better off driving a Hummer and eating an organic mcintosh apple from upstate New York. The carbon footprint might actually be less with the Hummer scenario and you kept a farmer working in the good ol’ USA.
Another important point is we don’t need Chilean apples because apples store well in cold storage and it is easy to have a supply year round. We have done this for decades. There have always been apples in the store. What was exciting about autumn was the ‘new crop’ apples and the varieties that are not as suited for cold storage would hit the grocery shelves. Autumn was a true celebration of the harvest with grapes, corn, and pumpkins to follow.
Knowing where your food comes from is important. Even more important now. Every decision you make about food has a much larger impact on the global sustainability picture. I raised two boys, now 16 and 18, on only produce grown in the USA or in my garden. If half of us did just this the effect on our economy would be tremendous. Better management of our farms and more support for our small farmers would allow us to have a steady supply of home grown fresh produce all year long. This doesn’t mean we would not import some produce; spanish clementines are still one of my favorites, but we should support an agricultural system in the USA that supplies most of our needs.
Just to make some of you nervous, China grows half the worlds apples but botanically that’s logical because the apple originated in, China. Happy eating!