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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

An Apple A Day

On or around October 21st every year, Apple Day is celebrated in the UK to promote local produce and the hundreds of apple varieties which are ignored in favour of a handful of supermarket-friendly strains.  You won’t see any perfectly-formed but tasteless Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples at these events, but instead the focus is on ‘local distinctiveness’ and the preservation of orchards as part of local culture.  The celebrations often extend to displays of other autumn produce such as pears, plums and pumpkins, as well as apple products, from ciders to apple pies, cakes, jams and jellies.

Apple Day was started in 1990 by the non-profit Common Ground, which aims to encourage ‘the positive investment people can make in their own localities’.  Buying local has become just as popular as buying organic, supporting a growth in farmers’ markets and websites which link the farmer directly with local consumers. 

Reasons for wanting to go local can range from the the ecological - reducing your carbon footprint by avoiding asparagus flown in from Peru or sugar snap peas from Kenya - to the gastronomic - food tastes better if it hasn’t been processed, refrigerated and vacuum-packed - with general agreement that ‘locavores’ are contributing both to sustainable economic and agricultural systems and to their own good health.

Those sampling the diversity of delicious local apple varieties this weekend may not be thinking about the wider implications of eating locally-sourced food as they enjoy the various apple-themed festivities.  But as a merging of sustainability, tradition and healthy eating, Apple Day is hard to beat.

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