With 11.3 million apple trees planted in the Mitten — on 825 family-run farms that produce more than a billion pounds of apples — Michiganders have a gazillion reasons to love-up and celebrate this iconic and delicious fruit.
One of the easiest and most fun ways to celebrate apples happens on Apple Crunch Day, Oct. 12. It’s a region-wide crowd-sourced festival spanning the Great Lakes. People in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio CRUNCH together, biting into locally or regionally grown apples to encourage healthful eating, support the local food economy and connect local food and agriculture to school curriculums.
The simplest way to celebrate Apple Crunch Day is to pick up your favorite apple and shoot a selfie while taking a big bite, and then share the pic with friends. But taking the celebration bigger amplifies the apple vibe. Teachers pass out apples to students and everybody in class bites at once. In office meetings, people pause to pass around apples and crunch. At family dinners, dessert is a luscious apple — and everyone bites at once. You get the point. Some way, somehow, bite an apple on Oct. 12! (For the record, Apple Crunch organizers say if you can’t crunch on Oct. 12, no worries. Just consider all the rest of October as one big extended Apple Crunch Day and fit it in when it works.)
In Michigan, MSU Extension and The Michigan Farm Institute Network host the annual Michigan Apple Crunch event. They encourage people to register their activity (even if it is just you and a selfie) at the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch website. The website and related social media pages build the day’s and month’s excitement by tracking the number of people who are showing their love of apples and offering ideas for adding to celebrations — recipes, classroom ideas, community promotion ideas and more.
Schools in particular have helped lead on Apple Crunch Day, in part because there are many ways to extend the idea for education. Apples offer curriculum content, such as teaching fractions, biology, agriculture, economy and health. Apples offer opportunity for cooking instruction and tasty recipes in the cafeteria. In Michigan, with apple farms so ubiquitous, apples offer an opportunity for teachers to invite farmers into classrooms to discuss the business.
Also, a bonus for Michigan schools is they can receive funds through the 10 Cents a Meal program to help pay for Michigan apples (info: tencentsmichigan.org). Plus, in Michigan, apples are the “Harvest of the Month” in the Farm to School movement, adding more good reason to join the crunch.
When you share your Apple Crunch photograph or video on social media, use #MIAppleCrunch, #CultivateMichigan and #F2SMonth. On Facebook, repost the “We Registered” badge, and share the Crunch Countdown posts. Continue the celebration and promote regional and local apples by encouraging chefs and food service directors to include apple dishes on menus throughout October, and highlight the local farmer who provided the apples. Let’s show support by joining in the Crunch Day festivities together!
Cori Fitzpatrick is Groundwork’s Farm to Institution Specialist.