100 years ago, people were eating things that most of us will never taste. So what happened?
Time travel back to 1905.
Back in 1905, a book called “The Apples of New York” was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson’s personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.
That was 110 years ago , when commercial apple orchards were still pretty rare and when even in the biggest of those orchards, everything was done by hand.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But why is that apple book such a big deal?
The book is significant because most of the apples listed in it have all but disappeared in the past century. DISAPPEARED. In fact, we used to have thousands of apple varieties, but most of those have largely vanished due to industrial agriculture. Now, many varieties are only found tucked away in agricultural research centers and preservationist orchards.
Fact: Today, the 15 most popular apple varieties account for 90% of all apple sales in the U.S.The most commonly sold apple? Red delicious.
2015 looks so different.
The fate of all those apple varieties is not uncommon. “In the last century, nearly 75% of our agricultural crops have disappeared. They’re simply gone. Today, farmers primarily grow 12 crops. And of these, we mainly eat potatoes, rice, corn, and wheat.”