In Defense of Apple Picking

3 years ago ccwa 0

apple+picking+1Recently, the online news magazine Slate ran an article titled “Against Apple Picking.” In it, the author, Daniel Gross, denounces apple picking as a wasteful scam. According to Gross, wandering through an apple orchard transforms innocent families in search of carefree apple-picking fun into malevolent and wasteful consumers, conquering the orchard and claiming the fruits of every pitiful apple tree they can find. Gross has a point when he writes that picking apples in an orchard seems to support overconsumption: at an apple orchard, you purchase far more apples than you can eat for the sole reason that you are picking them.

But in his critique of American values like overconsumption, Gross overlooks the innate benefit of picking apples. Real foods (like apples) are what Americans should be eating. Research conducted by researchers at Yale University’s Prevention Research Center supports this. In March 2014, Dr. David Katz and colleague Stephanie Meller published an article in Annual Reviews called “Can We Say What Diet is Best for Health?” Katz and Meller evaluate the efficacy of well-known diets including low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, and vegan. Katz and Meller found that many of the diets that appeal to a sense of scientific ethos—low-carb, Paleo—are often hit-or-miss in terms of real nutritional benefits. For instance, while the Paleo diet promises a return to the diet human beings were meant to eat (returning to data from the Paleolithic age to flesh out the idea of a human being and its diet) Katz and Meller find no “meaningful interpretation of health effects possible” from the heavily meat-based diet.

On the other hand, real food, straight from nature has tangible benefits. Eating isn’t a zero-sum game. In fact, by focusing our energy on a single nutrient or eating habit (as many diets advocate), we gain nothing. Instead, we need to emphasize diversity in our diets, particularly from real food. As Katz points out, if you eat food found in nature, “nutrients tend to take care of themselves.” To improve health, both on an individual level and for America as a society, we need to return to eating natural foods. We should accept and even encourage apple picking for its nutritional benefits alone if it can get us away from crunchy fried foods and towards crunchy, crisp produce.

Yet there is something beyond health benefits to picking apples. The real point that Gross misses about apple-picking is this: apple picking isn’t about the ruthless subjugation of nature or amassing as many perfect apples as is humanly possible within the space of an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon. It’s about spending time outside in the disappearing autumn sunshine with friends or family. The success of apple picking rests not on the quantity of apples gathered but on the first bite of the apple in your hand, warm from the tree. Instead of reaping benefits from a food item engineered to be calorically perfect and available for pickup in any supermarket across America, the psychological and physical wonder of an apple you’ve picked yourself is that there is simply nothing better.


by Shannon Fillingim

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