You’ve heard the hackneyed phrase “as American as apple pie.” But America is not taking care of the apples — or the orchard-keepers — that have nourished us for centuries. In 1900, 20 million apple trees were growing in the U.S.; now, not even a fourth remain in our orchards and gardens. Today, much of the apple juice consumed in the U.S. is produced overseas. Of the apples still grown in America, just one variety — Red Delicious — comprises 41 percent of the country’s entire crop, and 11 varieties account for 90 percent of all apples sold in stores.
When Joe Twine of Richmond, Ky., was growing up, “It was a must to have an orchard. [My father] had orchards…he had apples come in at all times of the year,” he recalls. “You don’t see ‘em anymore.”