When I first spotted the “no-spray” apples at the Takoma Park Farmers Market, I have to admit I was taken aback. The spotty, slightly shriveled fruits looked more like shrunken voodoo heads than the conventional apples we’ve all been raised on. I brought a few specimens to my Food section colleagues, one of whom said (if memory serves) after eyeballing the poor things:
“I prefer my apples fully sprayed.”
I came to find out that the ugly-duckling apples, from Waterpenny Farm in Sperryville, Va., are essentially wild, grown without any of the chemical benefits or tree-training techniques or even basic human attention of modern agriculture. The fruit’s rotting-zombie appearance doesn’t faze some. Waterpenny co-owner Eric Plaksin told me that a few of his customers actively seek out the apples.
Which got me to wonder how big a market there could be for wild apples, in a country that has been wild for apples since its founding. I thought it might be worth asking a small, self-selected sample of Food section readers about their take on these homely knobs.