In proverbs, in fairy tales, in art, the apple seems to touch the heart of people in all countries where it’s grown. It’s presented as a Christmas Eve gift in China as a symbol of peace and love and is apparently thrown by Montenegrin brides onto the roof of their new home to bless their marriage. Snow White, Adam and Eve, the catchy Chopstick Brothers’ song Little Apple….

Why does the apple have this universal appeal? Maybe the Greek-born Roman writer Plutarch had this worked out two thousand years ago when he said “No other fruit unites the fine qualities of all fruits as does the apple. For one thing, its skin is so clean when you touch it that instead of staining the hands it perfumes them. Its taste is sweet and it is extremely delightful both to smell and to look at. Thus by charming all our senses at once, it deserves the praise it receives.”

The apple is a pleasant fruit to eat: firm, crunchy, juicy. Its good to look at too – and artists over the centuries have explored this from many angles. Its health benefits have been studied – the eating of apples linked to reduced heart disease, better lung function, lower risk of asthma in young adults, and reduced memory loss. Even to better sex life according to recent research. What’s not to like?

Perhaps what really sets the apple apart is that, from the earliest days of humanity, it’s been a staple in the lunchbox. It’s easy to pick and to store over the winter, and transports well whether you’re on a camel on the Silk Road or taking lunch to school. It’s a ready-to-eat, naturally packaged portion of simple goodness, that can be enjoyed fresh, in cooking, or as delicious juice and cider.

The orchards of Herefordshire in the West Midlands grow more apples than anywhere in the country and Herefordshire produces a fifth of all the cider in the entire world. No wonder the county is getting ready to tell the story of the apple in a two-year exhibition programme being developed by the Cider Museum and the National Trust in Herefordshire. THE APPLE WORLD exhibition is proud to be part of China West Midland 2020.

Written by David Marshall
Find out more brightspacefoundation.org.uk