How Do You Like Them Apples?

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By: Shannon Lawson, Staff Member

The world loves apples! No, I’m not talking about our beloved gadgets made by that mega corporation (although we love those too). I’m talking about the forbidden fruit. The one Adam and Eve couldn’t keep their hands off. What was true then, is true now. The world loves apples! In fact, apples are one of the world’s top five most popular fruits with approximately 75 million tons produced in 2011.[1]

What exactly is it that we love about apples? Is it their sweet taste or snappy crunch? Whatever it is, we can thank climate change for the effect it is having on their sweetness and their crunch. Thank you climate change!

According to a recent study, apples have become sweeter, but have also lost some of their crunch as a result of climate change.[2] The study focused on Fuji and Tsugaru apples grown at two orchards in Japan from 1970 to 2010.[3] According to the study, Fuji apples are the most cultivated apples in the world and Tsugaru apples are the second most common in Japan.[4]

The research team published their results in the journal of Scientific Reports and noted there was “evidence that the taste and textural attributes of apples have changed as a result of recent global warming.”[5] The team also observed “all such changes may have resulted from earlier blooming and higher temperatures during the maturation period.” [6]

Because non-climate factors such as technological improvements and breeding make it difficult to assess the effects of climate change in a long-term observation, the orchards used in the study were selected because “there [had] been no alterations in cultivars and management practices for extended periods.”[7] According to the study, “[i]f global warming continues to progress, the changes in the taste and textural attributes of apples could be more striking as blooming dates become even earlier and temperatures increase during the fruit maturation period.”[8]

But this could be a good thing, right? Perhaps, if you are a baby or have no teeth. Besides, apples are already sweet enough. Don’t believe me, put down the green and try a red. If we could only pause global warming as it stands, then our apples would be just fine. Plus, who doesn't like their apples to “snap” when they take a bite? This study and countless others provide another reason to despise global warming.
[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, FAOSTAT
[2] See Toshihiko Sugiura et al., Changes in the Taste and Textural Attributes of Apples in Response to Climate Change, 3 Scientific Reports 2418, 1, (Aug. 15, 2013)
[3] Id. at 6.
[4] Id. at 2.
[5] Id. at 1.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id. at 6.