Janurary 5th 2011
It's hard to imagine that a fruit as ubiquitous as an apple could qualify for an endangered foods list. After all, you could walk into any grocery store right now and be greeted by rows and rows of brightly polished red and green specimens.
Look a little closer, and you'll see that these apples probably belong to one of the eleven apple varieties that make up over 90 percent of apples grown and eaten in the U.S., with Red Delicious alone constituting a hefty 41 percent. Now consider that a century ago, more than 15,000 varieties unique to North America populated our landscape with beautifully striped and spotted skins and names like the Dula Beauty, the Gloria Mundi, and the Newton Pippin.
Only one fifth of those varieties survived, with 81 percent of those precious few considered "endangered" on the marketplace. A new report from Slow Food USA, Noble Fruits - A Guide to Conserving Heirloom Apples, draws attention to the rapidly declining number of apple varieties - and proposes some solutions along the way.