The Apple Of My Eye

There’s a picture of an apple tree in my writing room.  It reminds me of the apple orchard on my grandparent’s farm…the one pictured on the home page of this blog.   As a girl, I used to climb to the top of the tallest apple tree and look out over the farm and make up stories in my head.  I suspect those early times observing the life around me were the seeds for my later writing days.

This time of year, the apple trees would have been about to burst into bloom.  By August, they would have been loaded down with apples and I would’ve been begging my mom to take me to the farm.  Once there, I would climb my favorite apple tree and sit on a tall branch munching the apples within my reach.

There are over 7000 different varieties of apples in the world, but of those 7000, there are 18 varieties that are the most commonly eaten.  In the United States, the most common apples to be found are: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, and McIntosh.  My personal favorites are the Gala apples because they are both tangy and sweet!

There’s an old proverb, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and there might actually be some truth to it!

Some of the health benefits of apple eating include:

*Apples are low in calories (70 – 100 per apple) and eating one can take away sugar cravings.

*Apples contain Vitamin C which is good for your immune system. A lot of people who lack Vitamin C in their diet bruise easily, heal poorly, and have bleeding gums.

*Apples help prevent both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease because apples are rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are also known for their antioxidant effects.

*Apples are thought to help prevent colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer because they contain antioxidants called procyanidins which trigger a series of cell signals that result in cancer cell death.

*Apples contain phenols, which reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

*Apples help prevent tooth decay because the juice of the apples has properties that can kill up to 80% of the bacteria in our mouths that cause tooth decay.

*Apples help to protect us from brain disease. Apples have substances called phytonutrients, and these phytonutrients prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism.

*Apples can help us have healthier Lungs.  Research at the University of Nottingham has shown that people who eat five or more apples per week have fewer respiratory problems, including asthma.

The average American consumes around 20 pounds of apples a year, which comes out to about one apple a week.  When my kids were growing up, their favorite snack was apple and cheddar cheese slices eaten together.  I peeled so many apples when everyone had braces, that it was common for me to peel an entire apple in one long peel.  I tried this recently, and it’s not as easy as I remembered it being!

Apples also have religious, mythological, and symbolic significance in many cultures including our own.  From the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, to our pet name of “The Big Apple” for New York City, to board games, apples are very much a part of the fabric of our culture.

Every day, many of us use a product with a picture of an apple on it.  In January of 1977, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer, Inc. to develop and sell personal computers.  It was renamed “Apple Inc.” in January 2007 to reflect the shift in focus toward consumer electronics.

I’ve often wondered why Steve Jobs named the company “Apple” Computer.  Did he love apples?  Did his grandparents have an apple orchard?  Did he simply have an apple on his desk the day he had to choose a name for the company?  When I Google-searched this question, I found several possible answers:

*His biggest competitor at the time was Atari who also made personal computers from 1978 – 1993 and Jobs wanted to be ahead of Atari alphabetically in the phone book.

*Jobs was on a fruitarian diet which consisted of eating primarily raw fruits and possibly nuts and seeds.  He is quoted as saying he had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

*The name was a tribute to the Beatles’ record label, Apple Records.

*Apple Computer was supposed to inspire humanity like the apple that fell on Sir Isaac Newton’s head.

Whatever the reason, today many of us have products in our homes with apples on them.

When my oldest son, Matthew, was in kindergarten and first grade, he insisted upon taking an apple to his teachers on the first day of school.  I wasn’t sure where he got the idea, but it was very important to him, so I made sure he set off to school with a shiny red apple.

Apparently, this practice dates back in history to frontier times when teachers often received food as part of their pay.  According to the Smithsonian Magazine, families were often responsible for housing and feeding the frontier teachers, and taking an apple to the teacher was a way of giving sustenance AND showing appreciation for the work they did.

There are a number of fun “apple” idioms (Sentences or phrases that have a different meaning from what they actually say.) in popular usage in our society today.  Here are some of my favorites:

It takes just one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch!  (One bad person influences everyone around him or her.)

How do you like them apples?  (What do you think of that?  Often used when telling about something exciting that has happened.)

It’s like comparing apples and oranges.  (Used when someone is trying to compare two very different things as if they think they are similar.)

As American as apple pie! (Something or someone has qualities that are typical of the United States or of the people of the United States.)

He’s/She’s the apple of my eye. (This is a way of referring to a beloved or favorite person.)

Here’s the apple of MY eye…our six month old grandson, Graham, wearing a shirt I bought for him!

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