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Hi, I'm Paul Sloth

I work in Outpost’s marketing department. I like to use what skills I have to spread the word about Outpost Natural Foods. On the greatest of days, this involves trudging through a farm talking with one of our many vendors. On really good days, this...
Paul Sloth

An apple a day, how about three

In the Aisles
By Paul Sloth on December 19, 2011

It won’t be long and that very last local apple will finally be eaten. If I do the math, I’ve been eating apples for the past 15 weeks, or so. I ate my first apple of the season in late August, when we picked some early apples in northern Michigan.
This season I committed myself to trying as many different apple varieties as I could (within my very limited parameters). I like tart, crisp, firm and juicy apples. Doesn’t everybody?
One of my minor hobbies is visiting orchards. I’ve visited several in Wisconsin. This year, for the first time, I visited with Bob Barthel and Nino Ridgway, the folks who own and operate Barthel Fruit Farm in Mequon. They’re great. They’re apples are great, too. I’ve made a few trips to the orchard — once, to talk with them about the orchard and another time to photograph families picking in the orchard.
Like a lot of orchards, Barthel Fruit Farm grows Honey Crisp apples, among other varieties. I tried to pretend I was above loving this apple. “Sure, I’ll eat a Honey Crisp, but I really prefer antique varieties.”
It’s not the apple's fault. Like a lot of things, it’s a victim of its own success. They’re in such high demand because they are one of the few apples people seem to ask for by name. Well that and they’re good. It's December and Outpost is still stocking them (at around $1.50/lb.) and I'm still eating them. They're not the easiest to grow, from what I understand, but quite popular to eat.
The ones Bob and Nino grew this year were unbelievable. I haven’t had a bad one and I figured after eating several pounds of them, during the past few months, I would have come across at least one bad apple. This year Bob and Nino had a bumper crop and a consistently good crop.
That’s not always the case. A year earlier, Outpost wasn’t selling Barthel Honey Crisp apples because a late spring frost damaged the crop. Gives you an idea of what farmers like Bob and Nino deal with annually and the challenges of providing a steady supply of food.
Nowadays, we don’t have to wait to eat apples, because they’re available year-round from all around the world. Personally, I prefer to wait for local apples. So, I’ll keep eating Barthel apples until there are no more Barthel apples left to eat. After that, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope there’s another bumper crop next season. 


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