Celebrate Earth Day with Michigan Apples
Did you know that Michigan is an ideal place to grow apples? A combination of the climate, proximity to lakes and nutrient-rich soil make Michigan the perfect state to produce top quality apples that are full of flavor and nutrition. And while we often think about Michigan Apples in the fall, there are 775 family-run farms that work year-round to ensure an abundant and high-quality harvest. During the spring, when we observe Earth Day, it’s a great time to celebrate locally grown apples and learn more about Michigan Apple agriculture. Here are some of the practices our growers use to ensure they are good stewards of the land and preserve a healthy environment for future generations:
High-Density Planting – Newer apple orchards are using high-density planting practices so trees come into production quicker and more apples can be brought to market rapidly. This growing method allows for safe and efficient use of labor and the land. Other advantages include more resourceful pest management and the potential to have higher quality fruit for a longer period of time. Effective high-density farming strategies can also reduce erosion and maintain soil fertility.
Technology Tools – With a changing climate and greater understanding of the far-reaching effects of agriculture on human and environmental health, technology can help apple farmers adapt and evolve their growing practices. The Enviroweather and MI EnviroImpact Tools, developed at Michigan State University, for example, enable farmers to monitor and predict natural events and make real-time decisions that protect their crops and the environment.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – Apple farmers use a variety of methods to suppress pest populations and prevent crop damage. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to the environment and encourages natural methods and some organic practices to control pests and disease.
No-Till Farming – Some apple growers have adopted no-till farming which is a technique that does not disturb the soil so it drastically decreases soil erosion while increasing water retention. No-till farming also promotes soil biodiversity.
Other Efforts – Along the whole apple production supply chain, recyclable packaging and shipping materials are used, farmers compost tree trimmings, and environmentally friendly lighting and cooling methods are used.
Thank you to our Michigan Apple growers for all of their ongoing efforts to be good stewards of the environment!
As you celebrate Earth Day with your family, here are a few fun ways to learn more about the environment and do your part to help keep our planet healthy:
Support the Bees – Spring is a busy and “bee”utiful time in Michigan Apple orchards. In May the trees bloom and fragrant rows of pink and white apple blossoms are abundant. The orchards will be literally buzzing during this time as bees are busy pollinating the blossoms. These blossoms are the beginning of the crop for the coming fall. You can plant your own bee loving garden by growing pollen-rich flowers to your yard. Learn more about pollinators here.
Learn About the Importance of Soil – Use an apple as a model of the Earth to demonstrate how much of the earth’s surface is available for growing food. You can get a step-by-step guide here or watch this Best Food Facts video for a demonstration and more information.
Reduce Waste – On average, 40% of all the food brought home in America goes uneaten, and that means food waste costs the average family $2,500 annually. If we wasted less food, we would improve the environmental impact of our diets because that waste wouldn’t be emitting methane in a landfill. Instead of throwing distressed produce away use it in recipes like smoothies, salads, or side dishes. Check out our fresh springtime Michigan Apple recipes below for some delicious ideas:
Apple & Almond Green Smoothie – Enjoy this nutrient-rich smoothie for an energizing breakfast or snack.
Makes 2 servings
2 cups lightly packed spinach
2 Michigan Gala Apples, cored and roughly chopped
½ cup apple juice
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 cup ice
Put spinach in blender, then put apples, apple juice and almond butter on top of spinach; blend 1 minute or until smooth. Add ice and blend 30 seconds until smooth. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 292, Fat: 14g, Carbohydrate: 38g, Protein: 5g, Fiber: 5.7g, Sodium: 28mg
Michigan Apple Chicken Pasta Salad – This wonderful main meal salad is full of flavor and texture from a delicious blend of healthy ingredients.
Makes 6 servings
8 ounces cavatappi pasta noodles
½ medium shallot, minced
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
2/3 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons poppyseeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Michigan Gala Apples, cored and chopped
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
(can use rotisserie chicken)
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup dried cherries
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together shallot, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, poppyseeds, salt and pepper.
Add apples, cheese, chicken, pecans, cherries and cooked pasta to bowl with dressing. Toss until well combined; refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days before serving. Serve garnished with parsley, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving (without salt): Calories: 384, Fat: 19g, Carbohydrate: 35g, Protein: 16g, Fiber: 3.6g, Sodium: 365mg
Roasted Apples & Brussels Sprouts – Tart-sweet Michigan Apples pair well with Brussels sprouts is this delicious oven roasted side dish. Serve with grilled pork chops or baked chicken for a family-friendly meal.
Makes 6 servings
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Michigan Gala Apples, cored, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small sweet onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place Brussels sprouts, apples and onion in a large bowl. Add oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper; toss to coat well.
Spread in single layer on foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray.
Roast 30 to 35 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are browned and tender.
Meanwhile, mix balsamic vinegar with honey in a small bowl. Drizzle over roasted Brussels sprouts, apples and onions when done. Toss to coat well and serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving (without salt): Calories: 117, Fat: 3.8g, Carbohydrate: 20g, Protein: 3g, Fiber: 4.4g, Sodium: 21mg