Last week on the Philly Homegrown Tour, I tasted a variety of apple I was unfamiliar with – a York apple. It’s a variety of apple that was discovered in York, Pennsylvania and named after the location where it was discovered. The apple was delicious, but chances are you won’t find York apples in most grocery stores.

Slow Food USA reports there were over 15,000 varieties of apples unique to North America a century ago. Now, only about 3,000 varieties still exist and 81 percent of those varieties left are considered endangered. In most grocery stores, eleven different types of apples make up over 90 percent of what you’ll find.

Slow Food USA has created a new guide in PDF format to draw attention to our dwindling apple varieties, “Noble Fruits – A Guide to Conserving Heirloom Apples.” The guide has useful information for those concerned with the endangered varieties.

  • Highlights many little-known heirloom varieties of apples.
  • Provides advice for people that would like to plant and harvest heirloom apples.
  • Highlights the farmers markets, pick-your-own farms and Community Supported Agriculture programs where these varieties of apples can be obtained.

The guide was developed to help local Slow Food chapters become more involved in helping to conserve heirloom apple varieties. You don’t have to be a member of Slow Food to help, though. Just by purchasing heirloom apples when you see them for sale, you’ll be helping create a demand for them. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Disappearing apple varieties
Slow Food USA is working to take many apples off the endangered varieties list.