Kids are often told "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" but might not be told exactly why this fruit is so good for them. People have been eating apples for thousands of years and they are one of the most popular fruits today. Teaching kids some apple facts is a lesson about history and nutrition.
Evidence has been found that people have been eating apples since 6500 B.C. Apple seeds were first planted in North America by pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A man called John Chapman, born in Massachusetts in 1774, began a one-man mission to have apple trees growing everywhere. He walked as far as what is now Illinois with a bag of apple seeds, showing people how to grow them. He became known as Johnny Appleseed and some big orchards today started with his seeds.
There are approximately 7,500 different varieties of apples grown in the world, 2,500 of which are grown in the United States. Apples are grown in all 50 states. It takes the energy from around 50 leaves to produce one apple. There are five seed pods inside each apple, with an average of one seed in each pod. Apples contain 80 per cent water. The volume of an apple is 25 per cent air, which is why an apple floats.
Apples are often called one of nature's fast foods. They are a good source of fibre and vitamin C. They also provide vitamin E, iron, calcium and vitamin A when eaten raw. About two-thirds of the goodness of an apple is in or just under its skin, so it is better not to peel before eating. Apples contain no fat and an average apple contains about 80 calories.
The state producing the most apples is Washington. According to the Washington Apple Commission, it produces around six out of 10 apples consumed in the U.S. New York produces the second highest number. Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit. They blossom in the spring and then the blossom falls and the apple grows, ready for picking in the fall. They are harvested by hand. Two of the most popular apples are Red Delicious and Granny Smith.