If you live in the QCA and have never been to Stone’s Apple Barn – you’re missing out!
The kids and I headed out there a couple weeks ago with a homeschool group field trip and had a blast! We went there a couple years ago to pick our own apples, but this time we actually toured the facilities and saw how the apples are processed to be sold at area stores.
The fall colors were beautiful! We learned about the 50 + apple varieties Stones grows and I learned a few tips for my own apple tress that I planted last year. I was sad to hear that they don’t let their apple trees produce apples for the first SEVEN years after they are planted. The reason makes sense – they want the trees to focus on growing deep roots instead of making fruit. Stone’s made it through our drought this summer without having to water their trees because they have strategically placed ponds around their orchards and because their trees have those great roots!
After our hay rack ride, we toured the apple processing facilities. Stone’s Apple Barn has huge freezers we went in. Brrr – it was cold. I was amazed at the size of this freezer and we didn’t even get to go in the freezer that they said was three times as big! Obviously, keeping the fruit chilled is the key to increasing its shelf life.
We also saw how the apples are treated before they are placed in the ginormous freezers. They are simply polished and bagged for sale or boxed up. They are not washed because removing the protective outer layer of the apple starts the deterioration process, if I remember our lecture correctly! I wish I would have asked if Stones sprays their apples. They are not organic, so I can only assume they do, but I didn’t want to ask that question for some reason. Obviously, it’s important to wash your apples! They are not washed before they’re shipped off to the stores.
But here’s my real dilemma: with the eat local and eat organic movements, which do you prioritize? I’ve been ordering organic fruit from Azure Standard, because for around a $1 per pound, the price can’t be beat. BUT that fruit is trucked in from Oregon. Since apples are on the Dirty Dozen list, it’s important to me to eat organic. But it’s also important to me to eat local and that’s where I struggle.
WHAT do you do with the whole organic vs local question?