Monday, October 6, 2008

Bad apple or prized find? The lure of the wormy apple.

These are not the kind of apples you fight for in the store or see pictured next to proud, grinning farmers. Yet, there was something about these bruised, neglected, harbingers of fall that captivated me.

They sat, dejected in a box labeled "take em or leave em" at my local CSA. Many I am sure, passed on the chance to acquire these ugly ducklings. Not me. I know how rare it can be to find an organically grown, New York state apple in these parts. Apparently, the climate here makes it tough for organic growing methods. Even my organic-loyalist the Park Slope Food Co-op, carries "minimally treated" ones.

I also should be clear - this was no charity case. I wanted to see what all the rage was about. I've been curious about wormy apples ever since Amy Hepworth, proudly bit into a wild untreated apple before a packed audience at the Park Slope Food Co-op last year. Amy, who supplies the minimally treated apples available for sale, declared her preference for the maggot-ridden ones, even going so far as identifying the pests she was consuming. Her statement got the attention of New York magazine which profiled her in its August issue, entitled "How Farmer Amy Hepworth Became a Cult Hero to Foodies."

Ever since, I've wondered if we were passing on the good stuff. I mean if the farmers and pests like them, shouldn't we? So I had to try them (the apples, not the pests - sorry, I am not as adventurous as Amy).

I took my knife and cut up an apple. And yes it was delicious! Sweet, crisp, juicy... all the important attributes I look for. Absent was the 'waxy' taste I find so common, and have come to accept.

As a CSA member, I am a stakeholder in my farm. Which means, like Amy Hepworth, I feel a special connection to all that grows from my farm - whether or not it is photogenic. I am sure I would have a different mindset if I shopped at Whole Foods. Fortunately, the good stuff comes to Brooklyn!

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