SHARON ONA (this article was first published in September 2012)
This is the start of my favorite time of year. As much as I enjoy stone fruit and summer squash, I have a stronger affinity for autumn eats. There is a warmth and depth of flavor to fall produce, like Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pumpkins, and apples that are unlike their summer counterparts. While many people do not consider apples seasonal produce because of their ubiquity in American supermarkets, apples only begin to make appearances in farmers’ markets during late summer and early fall. Crisp, juicy, tart or sweet, they are ideal for crumbles and pies, and their portability makes them perfect for on-the-go snacking.
This year apple growers represented by the U.S. Apple Association, Northwest Horticultural Council, and the British Columbia Fruit Growers Association are at the crux of a GE debate, and they aren’t happy about it. Genetically engineered, or GE, foods have been part of many processed foods for nearly two decades, but this would be one of the first instances in which a GE fruit could make its way to store shelves in the form of the Arctic Apple, appearing first in pre-sliced Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties.
In its infinite wisdom, Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits has decided it is high time to challenge the apple status quo. According to Okanagan’s founder and president Neal Carter, it is no longer acceptable for apples to brown if bruised or sliced open. No one wants to eat a browned apple. And a whole apple is far too big a commitment to be consumed in its entirety in one sitting, leaving its uneaten remainder susceptible to browning. Yes, a whole apple is “for many people too big a commitment,” according to Carter. Which, frankly, got me a little worried. I mean, if our society cannot commit to eating a whole apple, how on earth am I supposed to find a husband? Or settle on dinner?
Apple growers worry that GE apples will mislead consumers into thinking the fruit is fresher than it actually is, undermining the fruit’s image as a healthy and natural food, according to the New York Times. Additionally, according to Friends of the Earth, an international network of environmental organizations, “conventional and organic apple growers worry that genetically engineered apples will pollinate with their trees and contaminate their natural fruit. This form of genetic pollution could have major economic consequences and irreversibly impact the biodiversity of natural fruits.” What’s more, if approved by the USDA, these apples will not be labeled as genetically engineered and may end up in other products like applesauce or baby food without consumers’ knowledge.
What I can surmise from Neal Carter’s curious commitment comment is that size may be the issue. The larger the apple, the less flavorful it is because the larger the fruit, the less concentrated the sugars. If people opt for smaller organic apples lovingly cultivated by farmers, maybe we would be more inclined to eat the whole fruit, thus negating the browning apple conundrum. Or simply employ the old tried and true: a spritz of lemon juice. Just a thought.
Ponder this while you enjoy a grilled apple and Gorgonzola sandwich, made with Granny Smiths of the smaller, organic variety.
Grilled Apple and Gorgonzola Sandwich
Adapted from Anne Steib at examiner.com via Southern Living
- 2-4 ounces plain cream cheese
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola or blue cheese
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 1 apple of your choice, thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Spelt Bread, thinly sliced (recipe follows)
- Toasted chopped walnuts (optional)
Combine the cream cheese, Gorgonzola, and honey in a bowl and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Add the walnuts, if using.
Spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on each slice of bread, add sliced apples, and a handful of arugula.
Grill on a griddle or in a pan with a touch of butter.
- 4 cups spelt flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ to 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons soymilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Canola oil or margarine for greasing the loaf pans
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, combine the spelt flour, salt, flaxseed meal, baking soda, honey, and milk. Mix until very well combined.
Transfer the dough to one loaf pan. Then, cover that pan by inverting second loaf pan, so that the second pan acts as a lid.
Bake in the oven, covered, for 50 minutes.
Remove the “lid” and continue to bake for 15 minutes. If you do not have a second loaf pan, grease 1 sheet of aluminum foil and tent it over the pan. Do not cover the pan tightly, as the dough will rise.
Remove from the oven, invert the bread onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Tightly wrap in plastic to store. Keeps up to 3 days on the counter, longer if refrigerated.
Cook’s Note: This bread can be made in mini loaf pans – just cut the baking time in half. It is also wonderful with the addition of raisins and cinnamon to the batter and some jam once out of the oven.