10 June 2020

The New Yorker’s food correspondent, Helen Rosner, writes a column for the times: “[A]pples are remarkably susceptible to disease and rot. … Blight spreads quickly, and it’s not always apparent on the fruit’s surface. … The closer an apple is to rot, the more rot it spreads—one spoiling apple, in a crisper drawer or a fruit bowl, or a storage barrel or a cross-country shipping container, or even still hanging on the bough, speeds the rot of every apple it touches, and even of ones it doesn’t touch. The whole bunch quickly begins to exemplify what the artist Claes Oldenburg called ‘the brown sad art of rotting apples’: a swamp of ferment, infecting the air with the hideous sweetness of decay. Chaucer was likely the first to write a version of the now commonplace proverb: ‘A rotten apple’s better thrown away / Before it spoils the barrel.’ But I’m partial to Benjamin Franklin’s version: ‘The rotten apple spoils his companions.’ The saying is often used to refer to the corruption of select individuals within a group. But the point is the fruit’s susceptibility to collective rot. … The only way to avoid rot is to be proactive: check every apple, every tree. At the first sight of something amiss—a bruise or broken skin, a sunken place—toss that apple out, but don’t stop there. Scrub all the others and monitor them closely, but know that it’s likely already too late. Better to trim and burn the infected branch, or even the whole tree.”