Who could resist the appeal of the forbidden malus domestica (the apple) fruit? Apples have seduced human beings with their form, colour, aroma, taste, and nutritive value since the beginning of history. Their history has and continues to impact global cultures and civilizations.
Apples – Food of Paradise and the Gods
In the bible, the apple tree is believed to be the first tree in paradise. Adam and Eve, the first human beings in the Garden of Eden could not resist the temptation and bit into the apple, despite God’s commandment.
Apples were considered divine and powerful food of the Gods in Greek mythology. In Homer’s Iliad, Eris’ (Goddess of Discord), Golden Apple instigated the Trojan War.
Carbon dated seeds place the origin of the first apple tree in Anatolia around 6500 B.C. Other fossilized apple seed imprints trace the fruit’s beginning to the Neolithic period in England.
Historical records indicate that Pharaoh Ramses the Great ordered domestic apples to be cultivated along the Nile Delta in the 13th century B.C.
The apple tree was the earliest tree to be cultivated by humans. Romans were the first to take the lead in this field, and Caesar’s legions that conquered Continental Europe and the British Islands carried apples and planted orchards along their way.
A history of apples includes the achievements of Sir Isaac Newton and Johnny Appleseed. In 1666, as Newton was contemplating his scientific experiments under an apple tree, he witnessed an apple fall to the ground. The incident resulted in Newton’s Theory of Gravity—an important contribution to physics.
Johnny Appleseed (born John Chapman in 1774) did not make any scientific contribution, but possessed a great love for apples and pomology (the cultivation of apple trees). In American folk tales he was often portrayed walking barefoot with a sack of apple seeds over his shoulder and throwing pips along his path to cultivate apple trees.
In the 17th century, apples were cultivated by colonists of the New World (North America). Reverend William Blaxton planted the first apple orchard in Boston in 1625.
The origin of the apple may be a mystery, but one cannot disagree with Henry David Thoreau’s claim that, “It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man”.
Today, there are about 10,000 apples varieties that are cultivated throughout the world, but only 20 are traded internationally. China is the leading apple producer, followed by the Unites States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
As illustrated in the adage below, the apple’s nutritive value can provide optimal health.
Besides the above adage’s claim to keep your doctor at bay, the apple’s health benefits are also attributed to its pectin, boron, quercetin and vitamin content.
- Pectin: soluble fiber lowers blood pressure and glucose levels.
- Boron: supports strong bones and a healthy brain.
- Quercetin: reduces risk of lung and breast cancer.
- Vitamins: Vitamin A and C (boost immune system) , and vitamin E (improves circulation).
Human’s love affair with the apple is here to stay. The history, legends and tremendous health benefits are adequate proof this fruit possesses great power. Its ability to keep the doctor away is good enough for me…chomp…chomp.