The Grav-ity of Change

Change has come slowly but steadily to the foods we’ve eaten over the last 70 years. While there has been no acute onset to clearly demonstrate the difference between the food of today and yesterday, if you take a look at local agriculture, you can see the fingerprint of change in all parts of the U.S.

In the 1940s, Northern California’s Sonoma County had thousands of Gravenstein apple orchards.  During World War II, American troops were given Gravenstein applesauce and dried Gravenstein apples from the region. This put Sebastopol (the hub of the Gravenstein’s growing region) on the map. Over the years, however, the Gravenstein has waned in popularity. It has a short growing season and doesn’t store for long periods like other more commercially viable apples. Most of its acreage was torn out and replaced with more profitable wine grapes. Today the apples are grown on less than 1,000 acres in Sonoma County. (See the Los Angeles Times’ recent piece, “The Future  of Gravenstein Apples Hangs by a Thin Stem“). The slow change to our food culture has made this apple an endangered species.

The Gravenstein is a unique, delicious apple prized for its sweet-tart flavor. It’s considered an heirloom: a wisp of food memory that curls over our senses, leaving us with a culinary tale of yesteryear that starts with a smile and finishes with a bittersweet sigh. Experiencing Gravensteins opens a door into the magic of another time—it’s a world of narrow-gauge railroad track through open orchards; flat-bed trucks holding wide, wooden boxes filled with red-and-green striped apples; the smell of cider and soil on a chilly morning under fog-licked blue skies”¦.

You can help save the Gravenstein apple and celebrate its history. The FruitGuys is supporting the last organic growers of Gravenstein apples in Sebastopol by offering a 5-pound box of Gravensteins sent directly to you. Visit for more information. The season is short, so don’t wait!

As always, please check our Mix pages to find out exactly what you’re eating and where it was grown.

Enjoy & be fruitful! – Chris Mittelstaedt

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