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Apples have more than twice as many genes as humans.

The Forbidden Fruit

When you look at the world around you and consider its complexity, would it surprise you to learn that an apple has nearly twice the genes than are found in the human genome? Believe it or not, it’s true, an apple has nearly 57,000 genes compared to roughly 25,000 for a human being. If that’s got you scratching your head, don’t worry it stunned scientists as well. The apple’s incredible genome ranks it as the highest genome of any plant known to date.

The apple — Malus domestic is believed to have originated in mountains of central Asia as the Malus sieversii. Because the apple has open-pollinated seeds, over the centuries it has gathered properties from other related fruit like the crab apple (Malus sylvestris). Today there are more than 7,500 known types (cultivars) of apples. Even though most apple seeds are able to produce plants, nearly all apples trees today are produce asexually by grafting a specific type of apple to a specific root stock to ensure the quality and type of fruit.

Surprisingly with a genome of nearly 57,000 genes you’d be forgiven for assuming that the apple would be highly nutritious. Once again the apple surprises by having a relatively low nutritional value, with most vitamins and minerals at less than 2% of your recommended daily value. The one place that apples do shine, besides the natural wax on their skin, is in the phytochemical department. Apples are a good source of phytochemicals like flavonoids and phenolic compounds. At this time their health value to humans is not well known. In any case we can always hold out the hope that science will someday discover that old proverb of “an apple a day will keep the doctor away” really did have some truth to it. Then again, maybe not.

On the other hand if ancient mythology is any guide the apple is prized indeed. German Norse mythology considered the apple to have magical properties related to fertility. In Greek mythology the apple was thought to be the “forbidden fruit” – that fruit which bestowed the “knowledge of good and evil” by which mankind might become like god. Some believe these Greek myths influenced Christian art which often portrays Eve coaxing Adam to partake of an apple.

Today the apple still retains its iconic mystique as one of the most recognizable symbols of modern technology. Did you know that the original Apple computer logo was a picture of Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree with a single apple hanging precariously over his head? Well, that logo didn’t last long and Steve Jobs changed Apple’s logo the following year to a single apple with a bite taken out of it. Intentional or not, Jobs’ logo of an apple with a bite out of it turned out to be a rather prescient icon for a company in the computing age which one could argue has led mankind’s search for enlightenment, including our often perilous quest for the knowledge of good and evil.

Apple Festival at the Market This Week

In honor of the apple, the most genetically rich plant available for humans to consume, we are having an apple festival this week at the market. This week you’ll find a greater variety of apples at the Sierra Vista Farmers market than you’ll find anywhere else in Cochise County. Edith Beatty with Beatty’s Orchard will have Galarina, Fuji, Querina, Bert’s Special, Chieftain, Ida Red, Winesap, Grannie Smith, Gold Rush, Rome, Mustsu and possibly several more varieties. Backyard Gardening & Growing will have Grannie Smith, Gala, and an autumn apply similar to a Fuji. If you’d like to see how fresh apple cider is made, stop by Backyard Gardening & Growing’s booth and watch an old fashioned apple grinder and cider press in action.

Our food vendors will be celebrating in their own style. Krazy Koyote will have green apple flavored popcorn, the Simmons Honey Ranchito will have apple butter, Donna with McDonald Farm will have apple hand pies, Michael Simmons with Cluck Cluck Farms will have farm raised turkeys marinated in apple brine, April with Four Kings will be on hand with her Pumpkin Spice granola with Apple, and Sky Island will have their fresh ground Peanut Butter which goes great with fresh apples.

We hope to see you at this week’s farmers market on Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. For more information on all of this week’s vendors and their produce please see our weekly newsletter at www.sierravistafarmersmarkets.com

Submitted by William Struse