Apple picking is a classic rite of autumn in Vermont. The entire act has been shown to have health benefits, too. The old adage, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” has more truth to it that you might realize. Not only do apples hold six crucial daily nutrients, eating more fruits and vegetables has been shown to increase curiosity, creativity, and well-being.
On a recent Sunday, two boys raced to a tree loaded with cheery red apples. Their sisters move more sedately, as befitted their mature 10 and 11-year-old selves. Their heads leaned in toward each other across the wide aisle between the row of trees, a secret lobbed between them. Their colorful masks blocked the bottom of their faces, but their eyes, having learned to be more expressive in the past six months, shone with disbelief and laughter. With their canvas bags slung over their arms, they were a panoply of color splashing the greens and reds of the orchard. Glancing over their shoulders at their trailing mothers, one girl pointed, asking the silent question if those were the Cortlands most coveted by her family for the apple sauce destined for their Hanukkah latkes.
“Our families meet every year to pick apples together. It has become one of our sweetest traditions,” said Sian Foulkes of East Montpelier while picking apples at an orchard in early October. The founder of Foulkes Design pulls inspiration from the stunning landscape around her, bringing Vermont’s natural beauty into her design work for Vermont businesses and non-profits. Families at the orchard that day were giddy with sunshine and from being together, crunching on crisp Macouns, Cortlands, and Honeycrisps. Most people strolling the orchard recognized the importance of protective factors for both themselves and for others, and for the most part wore masks. People were respectful to maintain social distancing.
Sian’s family wasn’t the only one at an orchard last weekend. Over 4,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont “pick a peck on us” vouchers went out to families across all 14 counties, encouraging Vermonters to take to the orchards and recharge with family and friends. A bite of a tart sweet apple is loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and folate, flooding the mind with well-being and the body with good nutrition.
An increased amount of fresh produce simply makes you feel more engaged in the world. A 2014 study published by the British Psychological Society titled On Carrots and Curiosity showed that “on days when young adults ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported greater eudaemonic (happiness) well-being, curiosity, and creativity compared with days when they ate less fruits and vegetables.” 
“Picking apples brings together a satisfying mix of healthy produce, fresh air, exercise, and a connection to our food,” says Dr. Joshua Plavin, Chief Medical Director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. “It’s good for both the mind and body. I encourage Vermonters to dedicate some time this week to putting the chaos of the wider world aside for a bit and enjoying this beautiful place we all live.”
Orchards participating in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s Apple Days were:
- Allenholm Farm, South Hero
- Burtt’s Apple Orchard, Cabot
- Champlain Orchards, Shoreham
- Douglas Orchards, Shoreham
- Liberty Orchard, Brookfield
- Rooty’s Apple Orchard, Brownington Center
- Scott Farm Orchard, Dummerston
- Shelburne Orchards, Shelburne
- Sweet Seasons Farm, St. Johnsbury
- Terry’s Orchard, Bennington
We hope to see you at next year’s Apple Days, when we plan to offer picking at even more orchards. Join us!
 British Psychological Society. 2014 Jul 30.
Tamlin S. Conner, et.al., “On carrots and curiosity: eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life,” 2015 May;20(2):413-27. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12113. Epub 2014 Jul 30.↩