Tuesday, November 04, 2008



Bernd Heinrich, The Trees in My Forest (1997), Mushrooms:
Apparently we fear some fungi even more than the toxins that we use to kill them. Fungal apple scab, for example, is one feared species, though it really does only minor damage. Scab costs Vermont apple growers alone one million dollars annually in chemical applications and "product loss." (Scabbed apples are "unsellable.") Yet, a little apple scab is harmless and tasteless. Given the choice, I'd purposely pick out apples with some black fungus scabs, because they could not more honestly be labeled "fungicide free," in the same way that a tiny tasteless moth caterpillar in the apple core says "insecticide free."
Apples are prominent in the paintings of Levi Wells Prentice (1850-1935), and I am pleased to see that some of Prentice's apples show the sort of imperfections that Heinrich mentioned, e.g. Apples in a Tin Pail:

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