3Qs with apple scientist David Bedford

Categories: Food
honeycrisp.jpg
For David Bedford, a fruit crops research scientist at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center, a single apple has all the power of Google and all the health benefits of a nicotine patch. At least according to the Association of University Technology Managers' "Better World Report," which listed the Center's signature invention, the Honeycrisp, among those other world-changing innovations of the last decade. The U's Apple Research Exhibit is up now through October 31 at the Landscape Arboretum.

City Pages: The U of M has crossbred such famous apples as the Zestar!, SnowSweet, and Honeycrisp in the last few years. Are there any ethical dilemmas to consider while playing Apple God?

David Bedford: As nice as it is to be called an "Apple God," we don't really wield that kind of power. When we develop new varieties by crossbreeding or hybridization we are actually doing the same thing that occurs in nature, except that we are choosing specific parents. Ultimately we can't determine how the genes from each parent will be combined in their offspring, however. That is determined by a "higher" Apple God.

CP: The U of M's Honeycrisp apple was honored in the "Better World Report." Aside from the fact that it has "explosively crisp flesh," how did an apple really change the world?

Bedford: As proud as we are of Honeycrisp, it's hard, even for us, to say that it is comparable to Google, the V-chip, and the nicotine patch. But maybe in the smaller context of the apple world its effect has been fairly important. For apple growers in the U.S., especially in the East and Midwest, it has been a shining star for a struggling industry. Has it really changed the world? Maybe not in the same sense that Google has, but until you try one yourself you'll never know for sure!

CP: Is it good luck if I find a worm in my Honeycrisp?

Bedford: Honeycrisps are best eaten worm-free. Save the worms for your tequila.

"Apples with A-Peel," the apple research exhibit at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, is up now through October 31. 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska; 952.443.1400. Weekend apple tastings noon to 3:00 p.m.

--Molly Priesmeyer


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