What comes to mind when you hear “The Artic”?  Perhaps it is the weather Chicago endured this winter.  Or you may think of Boston and the wicked Artic blasts and snow they experienced this year.  Or you may think of Polar Bears (they live in areas where they can hunt seals including Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway).   What might not come to mind is apple.  The Artic Apple.  If you aren’t already familiar with it, you will be soon.  The Artic Apple, which will be available in Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties, are genetically engineered in a way to suppress the production of an enzyme that causes browning when cells in the apple are injured during packing, shipping or even from slicing. Controversial? Yes, indeed.  Some consumers are thrilled with the thought of their children not tossing away apple slices because they’re brown and unappealing, while others are incensed with the thought of a genetically engineered apple.  I’m not here to take sides or tell you whether you should or shouldn’t buy these apples when they become available in a few years.  What I would ask you to do, however, is to research all aspects of this product before you formulate your opinion.  Just as we encourage students to ask questions, know your sources and be able to provide support for your opinions or research papers, we should do the same. You can visit the Illinois Farm Families website, http://www.watchusgrow.org/illinois-farm-families-blog/the-lowdown-on-gmos-with-a-biotech-firm-take-2 to view an article on The Artic Apple or browse the web on your own to learn more about it. 

Speaking of apples, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture just announced its 2015 Book of the Year, The Apple Orchard Riddle, by Margaret McNamera.  The book teaches children about apples and apple orchards—including how apples are harvested, how cider is made, and what the different varieties of apples are—while trying to solve a riddle. The book also celebrates how some children learn differently than others. Ms. McNamera was interviewed by the AFBF where she explained her inspiration for the book, “When I was growing up, there was a very crooked, very old apple tree in our backyard. It produced the most delicious green cooking apples. I baked many a pie and cake and crumble with those apples.” She continued, “When I got older, my stepdaughter was diagnosed with dyslexia. Her struggle with reading has always been coupled with an uncanny ability to see things differently and to solve problems in a very visual way. I wrote ‘The Apple Orchard Riddle’ in memory of that old apple tree, and to celebrate my stepdaughter, Emma.”  We encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and enjoy.  While the Artic Apple may not be featured in this story, it’s sure to be the main character in a lot of stories in the near future.