Sunday, December 18, 2016

Apples on the web: A radical orchardist speaks

Since 2014, Eliza Greenman has been sharing her perspective and knowledge about growing apples in her blog, Unconventional Stories from an Apple Farmer.

Greenman's observations often have a critical edge that borders on the subversive, from her exhortation to "Eat Ugly Apples" to her questions about "the ethics currently involved in producing the status quo" in the fruit world.

She pooh-poohs "cosmetic diseases" that make fruit unacceptable to retailers (and most consumers) and is an ernest critic of "the management practices that go into producing flawless fruit," including the use of fungicides to keep apples blemish free.

Her criticisms are rooted in experience practicing those practices and applying those fungicides. These thoughts are a welcome antidote to a marketing culture obsessed with standard and perfect.

Greenman has been an itinerant orchardist, learning her craft in Maine and then working in New Zealand, Virginia, and, as of this writing, Maryland. During an apprenticeship with apple expert John Bunker and his wife, Greenman

ate apples that tasted like a grapefruit spritzer, cherries, licorice, coconut water, grapes and pina colada. Some with acidity that burned my tongue and others with no acidity at all. Some apples looked like potatoes (russets) while others had a skin so thin that just holding it would almost cause a bruise. Some apples had a red flesh inside, others yellow, white, nearly green and pink. 

Her writing is intelligent, passionate, and full of attitude delivered with the authority of someone who is fully immersed in her subject.

She has a cider bent, and always seem to be asking, What does this mean for cider making? As in this fascinating post on watercore, a topic I've also touched on (but with less rigor).

Her website is easy to navigate, though there are a few unfinished edges. Also, a topical index or table of contents might help readers find some of the older content. Greenman is also on twitter, where you can view her observations boiled down to 140 characters (no Twitter account required). I prefer the long form.

Greenman's writing appeals because it is based solidly on on experience. She admits us to a fascinating world of evolving pomological practice—and does not flinch from telling us what it means and what she thinks.

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