At Earth’s General Store we love being able to source a wider variety of apples that you don’t see in chain supermarkets. Variety is important to us as well as appreciating the texture, taste, history, the terroir, the labour standards, distance, relationship, etc of the food we offer at our store. Apples come in such variety. We think it is important to offer variety to our customers.
One day I was cycling to work and an apple tree was ripe with fruit and I picked one. It was delicious. I think knowing that it was grown right here, can be picked when it is ripe, can be picked by my hand, grown without chemicals and enhances its flavour and complements my values adds nuances to my appreciation of its flavour.
Eating fruit, vegetables or grains, like corn, fresh and ripe is one of the most pleasurable experiences I can think of. Remember going into the garden and plucking a snap pea or cherry tomato off the plant and eating it. This is an experience that is hard to replicate. I love watching children discovering a garden where they can graze and eat items.
Going to the large multinational supermarket is a little soulless in comparison. Farmer’s markets are a better choice since the produce picking is only a shorter distance away – and I am not talking about distance but the distance of process – of handling – of disconnection.
As a child, being raised in a northern town in Manitoba, I remember going down to the train station to pick up our case of “Christmas apples”. A very special treat because apples were scarce in the supermarkets and expensive. As an older child I lived in England and would quite often go off for long walks through the country side. Quite often I would come across a forgotten orchard and I would pick some to take home to enjoy (not that our household needed more apples since we had 11 trees in the yard – “Beauty of Bath”, “Pippin”, “Cox”). What an adventure, a surprise, and a reward. It was also educational.
Why would people leave these gems to grow, produce their fruit and drop their fruit without being used? I learnt first hand about global economics via the apple at this time in my life. It was cheaper for apples to be grown in Spain and picked by the lower paid Spanish and Moroccan farm labourer and shipped to England than to pay English people to pick the apples and try to sell them. It was more convenient to go to the supermarket and purchase apples in small quantities whenever you wanted them rather than only in season and having to deal with the bushels produced all around us.
In 1983/84 I cycled across the USA and sometimes I would cycle past a bunch of trees and you could tell it was an old farm yard. Sometimes there was a remnant of the farm house or maybe just the chimney. Since you are not whizzing by in a car, but travelling a the slow speed that I cycle at, you get to notice things. You notice the fruit trees still growing amongst the forest that has grown up around them. They sit there producing fruit year in year out. I had the same experience when I cycled across Canada in 1988.
I have the same experience in my back alley. People leaving fallen and rotting apples on the ground or maybe they eventually rake them up and put them in bags for the garbage truck to take away. I take some of these bags and put the rotting apples into my compost piles where rotting apples are welcomed by the organisms in the piles.
When people don’t clean up the fallen apples it breeds the ideal environment for the apple maggot and therefore put other apple trees in jeopardy. Please – if you have an apple tree in your yard – please take care of it. Prune it, water it, clean up fallen apples promptly, and use the apples – eat them. This respects the natural gifts that the apple tree freely offers us.
Fortunately there are a couple of groups in town that are working to gleam some of the produce that is presently being wasted in our backyards – most notably Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) and Fruits of Sherbrooke but they can’t keep up with the demand for their services and the number of volunteers they have.
Lots of apples grow right here in Edmonton. Many of them were planted more than 40 years ago. People would plant an apple tree in their backyard as part of their food supply (their food security). The trees were quite often grafted with a variety of apple types. Some of the branches would be for cooking apples, others for eating fresh and others for longer term storage. Apples were recognized a valuable fruit that we could grow right here in Edmonton. With over 7,500 varieties of apples people could experiment to find out what grew best here in Edmonton and worked well for their needs.
If you like a certain apple, you can see similar apples that you might like to try in the chart above. This chart is missing some of the most popular apples we offer at Earth’s General Store: – Macintosh, Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, Sunrise and Spartan.
One type of apple we will never sell is the GMO’d apple – Arctic Apple.
If you have one of these trees, accept the gift that someone passed down through time to you and make use of the apples. Learn how to make apple sauce, apple jelly, make, bake and freeze apply pies, put up for storage some apples, and dehydrate some. In January you will REALLY appreciate your efforts.
We hope you will come and try out the 5-7 varieties we offer at the store.