I believe in eating wormy apples.
I had always thought that I believed in eating healthy organic foods and taking care of the environment, yet, it wasn’t until I moved into a house with five apple trees that I began to challenge my ideas with action.
Prior to my move, I had always eaten lots of apples. When I was in college, I bought any old apple I could find, preferring tart, crisp varieties such as Macintosh to the soft-sweetness of Golden Delicious, but I would settle for whatever was on sale at the market. At some point, I read about the environmental ills caused by spraying apples; learning that the poisons used are harmful to those applying them, and to the surrounding ecosystem. I also learned about the benefits of buying locally grown food. I began to buy nothing but organic apples, and gave up my apple a day if I couldn’t get certified organic apples from local growers.
Despite being organic, the apples that I bought at the store were generally flawless, or pretty darn close. No bruising, scars, and definitely no worm holes.
I moved into my home in the spring. All summer I waited as the fruit swelled on the trees. I was sorely disappointed as the apples began to ripen. It seemed like every one of them had either hunks excised by crows and magpies, or worse yet, worm holes. Every time I reached for what looked like a beautiful, sweet, crisp apple, it ended up having some kind of defect. I did find a few that I considered edible; smaller than those found in the grocery store, but unbelievably tasty.
The next year a late summer frost killed most of the apples. All crops in the region were affected, and I spent the fall and winter craving apples.
I have one early ripening tree. This year in mid-August, despite the worms, I enjoyed it’s apples thoroughly.
I realized that homegrown apples are worlds tastier than the often spongy ones available at the grocer. Though I have had good store-bought apples, I have never had one that compared to a just-picked apple from my backyard trees. I also appreciate that, when eating a wormy apple, I am more present with myself and the apple. I pay attention to where I place my teeth, navigating around the worm holes (I haven’t gotten to the point where I can actually eat the worm in the apple!). I have also begun to suspect that the worms have good taste. They seem to know which apples are the juiciest and crunchiest and flavorsome.
Eating wormy apples is now a core belief, an example of how I want to live my life. To garner what is available from at-hand resources. To find goodness that is hidden, often in unsightly places. And to judge things not upon superficial appearances, but on substantive qualities.
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