Like many apples throughout history, Eve was discovered by accident. About fifteen years ago, an orchardist at Easton Apples, a large grower in New Zealand, found a tree whose apples were bright red. He considered it to be a promising new cultivar for market. Eve, the apple, has not traveled to this part of the world; she favors the cooler, mountainous regions of Australia and New Zealand. Technically, she is a strain of Braeburn, another New Zealand apple, but there has been some meddling with her DNA, because like some other modern apples, she won’t turn brown when cut.
Eve, the evil one, (or rebel, if you read my blog post Two bad Women and One Good Apple), is now the name of one of the most ordinary apples in the world. Her most distinguishing trait is her bright red skin. In photos, she looks just like a polished Red Delicious apple, the ubiquitous apple of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Following her successful entrance into the apple world, the Heartland Corporation decided to offer a juice made solely of Eve apples. It’s a cloudy, no sugar, pure apple juice, and it had its debut in Malaysia!
This juice is not to be confused with Apple and Eve, the juice from an American family business that started 40 years ago. Apple and Eve was the first juice company to offer organic fruit juice before organics was popular, and the first to offer juice boxes—apple juice stored in a single serving cardboard box, with its own straw and plastic wrap, packaged to travel to the moon.
Artist and inventor, Joe Davis, has been experimenting with ‘apple’ storage in his own unique way. He is using a four-thousand-year old apple variety from Kazakhstan, the birthplace of the apple, Malus sieversii, the parent to our apple, Malus domesticus, to create a new storage system for data. Davis is translating the whole of Wikipedia into the binary code of the four nucleotides of the DNA, then inserting it into an apple using a strain of bacteria that can permeate plant cell walls. He won’t be able to fit all of Wikipedia into one apple, his Tree of Knowledge will be a small orchard. Indeed, If you bite into one of these apples, you might get more than crunch!
Apples are one of our oldest fruits. In part, their success is due to the apple’s inability to produce offspring similar to its parents. The apple, naturally, practices genetic diversity. New apples do exactly the opposite: their gene pool is limited because the best traits are bred over and over again which is one of the reasons modern apples have lost the ability to ward off pests. We’re getting better at breeding, and creating tasty and disease-resistant varieties, though only time will tell if these changes are permanent, or whether the insects and fungi will breed and outfox us. We are sometimes so focused on creating what is desirable to us, that we neglect what nature would do on its own over time.
The ever present debate remains — how much should we interfere? Apple history demonstrates that for several thousand years she’s done quite well on her own — producing apples, locally grown, adapted to particular environments, the Netherlands, France, Asia, Australia, on almost every continent on the planet.
My friend, Patrick Hughes, wrote to me after the blog about Eve saying he ended a sermon on sustainability with the following:
There is one final request I want to leave you with. I believe we need to rewrite the story of Genesis to say that the residents of the Garden of Eden are not cast out of paradise by eating from the tree of knowledge but have it state they gained wisdom and evolved to become the caretakers of the earth by acknowledging this; That apples from that tree of knowledge are locally grown.
We have a few wild apples growing at the farm. After pressing cider, we dispose of the leftover pumice in discreet piles in our wildflower field. Some of the seeds in this leftover mash are hardy enough to send down roots and push up leaves among the wild grasses. Local, sustainable, probably bitter apples, but unique varieties, good for the crows, the bees, and the deer; good for genetic diversity. In my opinion, an apple, better suited for the name, Eve.
Correction: In the blog post After Applepicking I misspelled pomologist, Mike Biltonen's name. His newsletter can be found at http://knowyouroots.com/index.html.