The Apple: Food for Thought

By Qin Sun Stubis

(originally published in The Santa Monica Star)

ching bio

In the history of humankind, one unlikely character has an outsized part, not just as food, but as food for thought.

The apple, a common fruit in America, has served in a remarkable number of roles, from a token of appreciation from a student to a teacher to the symbol of New York City. It has even been tied to our creation.

According to the Bible, our world only got populated after Eve tempted Adam with an apple, a “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of Eden that carried the knowledge humans were not supposed to possess.

Apples have sustained us, delighted us, and even advanced our understanding of the natural world. Thanks to Johnny Appleseed in the late 1700s, there are plenty of apple trees in America and enough apples for us to enjoy year around. As one of our favorite foods, they are delicious to our palette and packed with vitamins and goodness. As a poor college student in the early 1990s, I often carried an apple in my backpack for a simple, satisfying lunch.

The virtues of apples went beyond being mere food one fateful day in England in 1666, when Sir Isaac Newton took a leisurely walk among the apple trees in his mother’s garden. He was in a pensive mood. Watching apples fall inspired him to ponder the motion of objects. His observations eventually became the basis for the theory of universal gravity.

The Newton story has become so popular around the world that when we talk about gravity, we think about apples falling from trees. Sometimes I cannot help but wonder: What if Newton hadn’t gone to visit his mother that day and taken that walk? What if he hadn’t noticed what was around him? It is lucky for the world that he lived at a time when men were observant and lived close to Nature.

Much has changed since Newton’s time. For us, walking no longer means going outdoors and the word “Apple” is more likely to conjure an image of a computer than an orchard. Instead of pondering deep thoughts under lush foliage, we are more likely to be sitting in front of a screen. Are we missing the outdoor adventures and experiences our ancestors once cherished?

Our world is infinitely large and much remains to be discovered. Life’s most extraordinary events can happen any place and at any time. They often take place right before us when we least expect. Like Newton, are we ready to catch those moments? As with apples, it’s just some food for thought.
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