Earlier this year I challenged each of you to come up with a new use for the apple. My example was what positives flowed from the introduction of taking raw peanuts and creating peanut butter? This then merged with jelly to yield an American classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We still are looking for that new mix for our consumers.
If we step back even more and begin to unpeel the onion so to speak, I think we are already slow to invest in apple food research. We have a nutritional crisis on our current doorsteps. US citizens are no longer dying from starvation, but they are dying from obesity. Today 1 in 3 young Americans are too fat to enter the armed services. Since the 60’s obesity has tripled to now be 42% of our population. No surprise this has led to increased health care costs. There is a reason most health insurance companies will pay for your health club membership.
Food companies see this and are investing huge sums in food research. Traditional protein sources have come from our animal production. The heavy meats and milk products today are destroying our health. We need to invest in ways to have consumers enjoy the taste of their meat products but from plant-based crops. Burger King has the Impossible Whopper now in their menu. They are not alone. Many other companies are investing in this shift away from the dominance of animal-based foods.
People have long predicted that the world population would grow faster than our ability to produce enough calories. What has happened in fact is due to our creativity on the farms we are producing more food than the world is consuming. This has kept food priced below where it should be. Result, we are eating too much because of price and taste.
China will soon be facing a huge food challenge. Due to improved earning capacity the Chinese have gone away from basic food dependence such as rice to more meat based. The demand for this meat-based food simply will not be available for this growing population. This will cause both domestic and international stress.
To try to draw this to a conclusion. We still must feed the growing world/US population in the future. Meat based food production is taking too much of the available acreage. We must learn to reduce the percentage of calories we consume from this group. It will never go away. Soy milk can replace some of the need for dairy based milk for example. We grow apples. We can grow given demand more than we currently do. We need to be investing in food research to use the apple in newer ways. Who would have thought that you could pour a glass of milk from almonds?
In short, we need to make certain our apples are being used even more in the future. If we combine all sales of farmer’s markets, CSA, pick your own, roadside markets, farm to school and direct sale to restaurants from our farms it represents less than 1% of the food we produce in this country. Commercial agriculture is a necessity to feed this planet.
The hope that local and organic will increase consumption has not become a reality. Only 2% of all farm commodities are grown organically. Less than 1% of our acreage is devoted to this usage. To win the health and obesity issues that are on our table we need to encourage new consumption trends. I suggest we make certain apples are in the heart of this revolution.
If you are interested in this topic, I suggest you read Resetting the Table by Robert Paarlberg.