Fred Lape's Apples and Man

By Lee Latimer

In 1979, Fred Lape pub­lished a book enti­tled Apples and Man. The fly­leaf states: The com­ing gen­er­a­tion may scarce­ly know how a good apple tastes. Any­one who savors the taste of a good apple and is curi­ous about the past his­to­ry, the cur­rent sta­tus, and the prob­a­ble future of the apple will delight in this com­pre­hen­sive narrative.”

And a bit lat­er in the para­graph: The dis­crep­an­cy between the con­cerns of com­mer­cial grow­ers and the indi­vid­ual lover of a good tast­ing apple is explored, with an in-depth dis­cus­sion of the dan­gers of mass pro­duc­tion, sci­en­tif­ic breed­ing and reliance on chem­i­cals for cul­ti­va­tion and preser­va­tion.”

While insight­ful and mon­u­men­tal in its own right, in 2017, Lape’s Apples and Man also inspired a Wis­con­sin man, Dan Bussey, to pro­duce The Illus­trat­ed His­to­ry of Apples in the Unit­ed States and Cana­da. It is an illus­trat­ed hard­cov­er set of sev­en vol­umes, each between 500 and 600 pages. Illus­trat­ed His­to­ry is a com­pendi­um of every apple vari­ety that has appeared in print in any North Amer­i­can pub­li­ca­tion in the last two cen­turies.

An online arti­cle by atla​sob​su​cra​.com titled Meet the Man on a Quest to Doc­u­ment Every Apple in North Amer­i­ca” states:

Bussey, 64, began his pomme-olog­i­cal quest in 1989, while set­ting up an orchard in his home­town of Edger­ton, Wis­con­sin. He’d grown inter­est­ed in heir­looms in 1980, soon after read­ing the new­ly released book Apples and Man by Fred Lape, which bemoaned the loss of heir­looms and the poor qual­i­ty of chem­i­cal­ly treat­ed super­mar­ket apples.“

We have always known of Fred Lape’s world- wide rep­u­ta­tion as an insight­ful and knowl­edge­able expert on plants. This is anoth­erex­am­ple of the far-reach­ing effects of his leadership. 

Fall 2021

Volume 39 , Number 3

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