Know Your Apples: A Guide to NY State Apples and a Brief History of this Gem of a Fruit


The apple is the jewel of NY State and for good reason. We are the second-largest apple producing state in the country, averaging 29.5 million bushels of apples per year on 55,000 acres (yes, all 50 states do produce apples, although only 36 states produce the fruit commercially.) People may think of New York City and Wall Street first when they hear of NY State, but in the other 54,252 square miles of NY, apple country dominates – creating 10,000 direct agricultural jobs and more than 7,500 indirect jobs (Ever wonder why NYC is just the “Big” Apple? this is why…)

Today I’m giving you the low-down on the top 10 types of apples grown and sold in NY State so you can take pride in being an expert on one of the highlights of NY culture, but first, let me lay out a few facts and a brief history of the apple.

Apples aren’t just a big deal in the US; they are a world-wide fruit favorite. Presently, 7,500 varieties are grown around the world, with China dominating 40% of the industry. The US is the second largest producer of apples; we grow 2,500 varieties – but only 100 of those are grown commercially – to make over 5 million tons of apples. In 2010, genomicists found that the apple contains 57,000 genes, more than any other plant genome studied thus far and more than the human genome (30,000). This allows for a huge amount of diversity in apple breeding, with varieties made to be perfect for cider, baking, cooking, and raw apples.

Despite our obsession as Americans with all things apple (as cider, pie, crisp, butter, jam, jelly), the fruit is not of North American origin. The first apple tree bloomed in Central Asia and quickly spread across the rest of Asia and Europe to become a dietary staple for millennia. Apples were so important that they were in fact fruit of the gods; in Norse mythology the gods sourced their immortality from apples, in Greek mythology the apple was a symbol of Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) and to throw an apple at someone was a declaration of love, and in both Greek and Christian lore the apple was a symbol of life and knowledge.

Thanks to Reverend William Baxton, who in 1625 cultivated the first American apple orchard, we now enjoy local, home-grown apples. In NY state, the varieties below are the ones you absolutely should know.




Sweet, Juicy, White Flesh, Red & White Skin, All-Purpose (cooking & eating)

Named after John McIntosh who discovered the seed in 1811



A Hybrid of Red Delicious and McIntosh developed at Cornell in the 1940s

Red, Sweet & Tart, Juicy, Crisp White Flesh, Doesn’t Bruise Easily, the “Lunch-Box” Apple


Red Delicious

Sweet, Juicy, Yellow Flesh

Created in 1880, Represented 3/4 of Washington State Apple Production in the 1980s



Sweet but a Little Tartness, Juicy, Tender White Flesh, Good for Dessert


Golden Delicous

Honey-sweet, Light Yellow Flesh, Bruises and Shrivels Easily, Great for Apple Sauce

Not Related to Red Delicious



Mildly Tart, Greenish Flesh, Firm, Best for Baking



The Classic Baking Apple, Holds Shape Well,  Makes a Pink-ish Apple Sauce



Originally Called Mutsu, From Japan, Renamed in the ’60s

Lightly Sweet, Super Crisp, Favorite for Roasting



Hybrid of McIntosh and Jonathan, Sweether Than Jonathan

Slight Taste of Honey, Hint of Spiced Cider



Paula Red

Tart, Needs Only a Little Sugar When Baking




From New Zealand, Mild Not Too Sweet/Tart Flavor, Yellow Flesh

To learn more about all varieties of apples grown and sold in NY State, check out this page.



NY State Apples Image:

Apple Images – Public Domain

Rome Apple Image:


Author: Jackie Ibragimov


CAFOs: Just about the worst thing on Earth.

Regarding farming, the average American is probably familiar with issues related to pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, fair-trade, or organic certification. However whenever I bring up CAFOs, most people have no idea what I’m talking about, which is disconcerting because CAFOs are some of the nastiest things on Earth. If you need persuading take a look at the picture below:

That ^ ^ is a “manure lagoon”, literally a basin of animal excrement that is a direct by-product of CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. The majority of the meat you eat in America (unless it is free-range/organic/local) comes from Big Agriculture – corporations who raise their animals in factory-like conditions, cramming tens of thousands of animals in tiny pens where they never see the light of day, benefit from free movement and exercise, or breathe fresh air. These are concentration camps for animals, where the goal of the corporation is to achieve industrial levels of efficiency with animals as their production slaves. This doesn’t just pose a moral issue regarding the treatment of animals; CAFOs have a direct and serious impact on YOUR health and the health of the environment.

When animals receive little to no exercise, breathe the stench of the refuse of thousands of other animals nearby, and are fed artificial food (or food that is cheap but not a part of their natural diet, i.e. corn), they grow less and experience more health problems, like E. Coli growing in the stomachs of cows. In order to counteract this, animals are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, which affects your body as you eat their meat or drink their milk. Increased levels of ingested antibiotics and growth hormones in the human body have lowered the age at which children begin puberty (with many girls receiving their first period at the age of 7), augmented the body’s storage of fat, and have lessened people’s ability to be treated effectively by antibiotics in cases of illness. Got a bad case of acne? Feeling bloated? Missing periods? That’s probably the hormones in your milk/meat.*

Aside from your own body, CAFOs have a serious impact on the world around you. Manure lagoons, which are a slurry of solid sludge and liquid excrement, are known to emit a volatile mix of greenhouse gases. These gases include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane (which is 25% more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2), and carbon dioxide. With about 450,000 CAFOs in the United States and with the way wind likes to travel, the air you breathe is in fact directly affected by CAFOs that may be thousands of miles away from you (as an example of this, California has a significant amount of pollution in its air generated by CHINA!! which is 6,687 miles away across an ocean).

Additionally, although manure lagoons are lined with clay to prevent the antibiotics, estrogens, bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, and protozoa in them from contaminating local water, they are prone to overflow either due to cracks in their lining or just increased rainfall/strong wind. Contaminating water and soil with these substances then affects ecosystem populations of a variety of animals (as an example, algae will overpopulate bodies of water and suffocate other aquatic animals/fish).

Why do CAFOs exist? Partly it’s your fault. It’s also mine. With Americans increasingly not knowing from what conditions their food comes from and just accepting the miracle that are supermarket shelves, we are eating an abundance of protein. People eat large amounts of meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. People gladly go for that second or third helping of hamburger at family BBQs. People choose not just sausage, but also bacon, ham, and a turkey patty at continental breakfast buffets. Of course, no industry will say “no” to increased demand. You want more meat? The industry will find a way to make it happen. And the only way to satisfy the estimated 324,227,000** of us that all want meat every day for every meal*** is a CAFO. Making a change doesn’t start with the industry (governments have tried to moderate the inhumane treatment of animals in CAFOs, with only minimal effect), it starts with YOU. By making a decision to limit your meat intake to one meal per day, for example, or maybe once every two days, you can make a serious dent in demand. If there’s no need for hellish amounts of meat, there’s no need for CAFOs. Believe me, Americans actually eat more protein than necessary in a regular diet (eating too much protein can actually suck calcium out of your bones). You don’t need it.

So now that you know the personal health, environmental, and economical impacts of CAFOs, let’s briefly review the conditions in which these animals live, partnered with images.

Chickens live in “broilers”, where they are crammed into a small tent with 20,000 to 30,000 other birds and have less than a square foot of living space. They live for approximately 7 weeks (despite the fact that healthy chickens can live 8-10 years!), the entire time sitting on their own waste, called “cake” by CAFO industrialists.

Cow CAFOS are just about the worst. These giant animals meant by nature to be pasture roaming, healthy creatures are crammed in pens and fed a diet of just about whatever can fill their stomachs with no regard to nutritional content. This includes hydrolyzed poultry feathers, by-products of the other animals killed on the farm, inter-species waste, and cement dust. Even on farms where the diet is less sickening and cows are fed corn, a very cheap alternative to grass, cows must be pumped with antibiotics to negate the E. Coli in their stomachs. Fed on grass, cows develop no E. Coli in their digestive tracts.



Pigs live in no better conditions, despite them being smarter than dogs. 1,200 to 2,500 pigs can be confined in one space, all in cages

American Pork Shipped to China


Egg laying hens suffer no less than those raised for their meat. They are kept in the most confining cages, with their beaks seared off so they cannot maim their neighbor. They live for a year before they are killed.



As you can see, CAFOs are beyond unnatural: they’re beasts that shouldn’t exist and have far-reaching impact. If anything, if you don’t feel recycling makes an impact, if you don’t feel waste reduction is possible in your life (which is not true FYI), just eat less meat. With the amount we eat every day, you as an individual influencing your family and your friends can actually make a giant impact.

*Soy milk, although not a product of industrial farms, also has high amounts of hormones and has been attributed to similar issues.

**Estimate by the US Census Bureau

***Yes, I know I’m not taking into account vegans and vegetarians, but that’s just because they are a very small minority in this country. The difference is minuscule and the point still stands.



Author: Jackie Ibragimov



B Lab: A New Way to Grade Businesses

Food can be labeled organic, fair trade, or local. Facilities can be labeled Leed Certified. Washers/Dryers can be sold as “Energy Star appliances”. But what about businesses?

For that, there is B Lab, a nonprofit that “serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good™” with the hopes of promoting a culture where businesses don’t just compete for profits but also to be the Best for the World®.

Certified B Corporations™ meet rigorous standards of “verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability”. These companies are by all means profit seeking, however in daily processes and in every step of the business process, these corporations take into account the impact of their actions on both society and the Earth.

There are currently over 1,600 Certified B Corporations in the world, spanning 42 countries, each having signed the Declaration of Interdependence. By signing the declaration, B Corps commit to conduct business as if “people and place [matter]”, to “do no harm and benefit all”, and to accept that “we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”

Corporations are then reviewed for their impact on the Environment, relationship with Workers, impact on Customers and Community, and accountability and transparency in  Governance. All of these scores are released online and are compared to a median score of other businesses in the same industry. As an example, check out the B Corps Impact Report for Exygy, a software company.

Aside from official certification, B Lab also offers to all companies the use of their B Impact Assessment, which has been used by the likes of Etsy, Ben & Jerry’s, and Patagonia to help detect where companies can improve. Thus far, 15,000 companies have benefited from this tool.

The requirements of being B Corps Certified are quite simple, with the process being very open and inviting. Basically, if you commit to the cause, you’re welcome to join the cause, even if you have room to grow. Because that’s the goal, for all of these companies to continue growing, both in profit and in sustainable business practice, so that we may illustrate to the world that companies CAN be profitable and sustainable.

Thanks for learning with me, and have a green rest of your week!


Author: Jackie Ibragimov


Where Do We Get Our Local Food From?

The University of Rochester prides itself on providing students with healthy and nutritious local food. At the moment, 56% of food products on campus are locally sourced. This includes the vegetables and fruits we serve at salad bars and in cooked meals, some of our healthiest snacks in Hillside and the Pit, and milk served in coffee beverages.

56% might not sound like a lot, but with the amount of students and faculty we have to feed and caffeinate on campus, it’s pretty darn awesome that we can source a majority of food from small, family-owned local farms.

Why does this even matter though? Well, instead of sending our UofR big bucks to Big Agriculture for food that is often covered in pesticides and meat that is filled with antibiotics, the University is financially supporting farmers and distributors in New York State. Moreover, we try to focus on getting food from UPSTATE New York, meaning our eating needs as students directly go towards supporting a stronger local economy. These products also have lower to no pesticides and no antibiotics because local farms are also often homes. Would farmers want to live on a CAFO (disgusting animal farm often affiliated with “manure lagoons”) or on a field of toxic chemicals?






So, where do we get all of this food from? How can we organize something so intricate and complex, while dealing with the other thousand and one issues Dining constantly has to manage? Do we directly communicate with all of our local vendors? No, that would be insanely time consuming.

Instead, we use Headwater Food Hub, a company that I believe to be innovating the way local farmers work.


Source: Twitter @liv_rotondo

Headwater Food Hub is basically a consultant for local farmers. Partner farms trust Headwater with the management of their “supply chain logistics, aggregation, distribution, and sales”. In other words, Headwater acts as a middleman for these farmers, letting them focus on the task of producing high quality, nutritious and tasty food, while managing the logistics of supplying restaurants, schools, businesses, and grocery stores.

Another facet of Headwater Food to keep in mind as for those living off campus is the Good Food Collective, a subsection of Headwater that focuses on supplying local food directly to you, the individual.

How does it work? You buy a share (priced out at sometimes lower than grocery store costs) of food for the amount of people you need to feed (either yourself, or a family, or maybe just you and your roommate). Every week or two weeks (depending on the share you choose), you go to a conveniently located distribution center, where you pick up a basket of goods. If you live in certain zip codes, you can even have it delivered directly to your home. AND! if you take this info with you to your boss in the Rochester/Finger Lakes/New York City region maybe you can even set up workplace shares, and everyone could pick up their basket of goods at work. Shares are catered to season and sometimes even Holidays (Thanksgiving shares are up right now!!!).

To find out more about shares, check out this page. (P.S. You can even get shares of locally roasted coffee…)


Hurd Orchards // Source:


First Light Creamery // Source:

Happy Eating!


Author: Jackie Ibragimov

Bee Day 2016: The Lowdown on Colony Collapse Disorder

If you kept up with Facebook last Wednesday and happened to pass by Danforth for lunch, then you probably got a taste of Bee Day – a new event that Team Green hopes to become a really BIG thing over the years.

We started small this year, mainly taking time to explore our options and educate ourselves about all the different beekeeping opportunities in Rochester. Primarily, that meant speaking with the surprisingly many urban beekeepers of Rochester. And then, we took some time educating YOU, our peers. In years to come, we hope to expand Bee Day to become as awesome and full of activities as Local Foods Week and Earthfest.

Why do we care about bees enough to make an annual celebratory event in their honor? Well, bees are the silent (albeit slightly buzzing) guardians of this planet. Bold statement? No. Consider this: 1/3 of world agriculture wouldn’t be possible without pollination by bees. I mean sure, farmers could try to manually pollinate those crops, but that would cost about $15 billion extra dollars JUST FOR U.S. CROPS. Worldwide, bees contribute an astounding € 265 billion annually in pollination. Without bees, all vegetable and fruit eating animals, including us humans, would have to drastically reduce their diets. To visualize what that would look like, Huffington Post made a really compelling set of images illustrating grocery shelves before and “after” a massive bee extinction. Below is what the average produce section would be reduced to:




Are bees really in so much danger that we actually should fear our grocery stores looking like the one pictured above? Yes, they are, and it’s really scary.

In recent years, scientists and farmers have observed bee colonies being abandoned with increasing frequency. No one knows where the bees go – whether they die or fly to live independently – nor why they leave the hive en masse, but research is currently being conducted with ferocity to stop Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as soon as possible.



As the graph above illustrates, before 2006, 10-15% of bee colonies died every winter. However, since 2006, 30% of bee colonies have collapsed every winter in the United States (keep into consideration, though, that CCD is an international issue).

Scientists are considering several possible causes for CCD: 1) the invasive varroa mite, 2) emerging diseases like the Israeli Acute Parasite, 3) pesticide poisoning from dusted crops, 4) stress from improper beekeeping (i.e. continuous transportation of hives across country for pollination services), and 5) changes to foraging habitat.

The most researched possible cause is pesticides. Bees seem to become disoriented and lose track of how to return to the hive after pollinating pesticide treated crops. Obviously, pesticides are necessary to maintain an amount of agriculture that feeds our every-growing population. So, instead of advocating the complete disuse of pesticides, scientists are actively trying to discover which pesticides are causing the problem and how to create similar pesticides that don’t have that effect.

Well, that’s great and all, research is awesome, but what can the rest of us do to help? The answer is really simple and actually super fun: plant a garden, whether on a plot of land or on a windowsill, which features flowers that bees can easily pollinate.



Click here for some tips on how to plant a bee-friendly garden. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, you can still support the bees by buying honey instead of other sweeteners, minimizing your carbon footprint, and maybe not trying to drown bees in pools? Yeah that’d be good.

Anyways, that’s the gist of the plight of the bees. Below are some cool documentaries you can watch to learn more. See you next year with some more Bee Day goods!


Burt’s Buzz

More Than Honey


Author: Jackie Ibragimov

Be My Reusable Mug Valentine

Valentine Pug

Source: Cheezburger

It’s Valentine’s Weekend on the University of Rochester campus, and Team Green would like to wish everyone a super yummy Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Hillside has been stocked with Organic Sea Salt Truffles, Ben & Jerry’s Ice-Cream (but not the vegan one….yet…hopefully, one day…maybe we’ll get it), and Sparkling Apple Cider. All the ingredients for some relatively guilt-free indulgence, whether you’re sharing with a special someone, a group of friends, or basking in self-love. Valentine’s Weekend is also a time for coffee dates, whether you’re in a sorority and shopping around for a potential big/little or meeting up with someone you met on Tindr/in class/in the tunnels/caught out in this horrible Winter wind. For example, this week I have been on 5 Big/Little coffee dates and two “Let’s Catch Up” dates.

Watching myself throw away a paper cup and plastic lid every single day to just go into a landfill really did break my heart, no Valentine’s pun intended. If you’re not an avid coffee drinker, throwing away one disposable cup once a month is easy to pass off as not that big of a deal. But if you’re a normal college student who wakes up early, exercises regularly, manages to stay awake in classes, works a campus job, attends all social meetings, and gets homework done a minute before the deadline, then you drink coffee everyday. If not coffee, then at least a cup of tea.

Imagine that, 7 days a week, 30 days in a month, approximately 12 months in school, and you’re throwing away a cup every single one of those days. With 5,000+ undergrad students on this campus and hundreds of faculty and staff, that adds up to our very own University of Rochester landfill. As Ryan Gosling would say around this time of the year:

Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl"

Source: Rookie

So, this Valentine’s Day, I bought myself a reusable mug. Even wrapped it up and wrote myself a greeting card (I’m that cool, *cough* pathetic *cough*). It was only $16.99, and now every time I get a cup of hot coffee or tea (or an iced drink if I had a cold cup), it’s only $1.39. That translates to spending only $9.73 that week, instead of $13.23. Those savings add up, especially for freshmen with low declining and upper class-men who need their declining for real food too (or upper class-men who chronically snack, *cough* me *cough*). More importantly, that’s 7 cups less sitting on my conscience and my own carbon footprint.

Happy Cat

Source: MemesVault

Some ideas to turn that mug into a gift:

  • Fill a mug with candy/chocolates/your person’s favorite snacks.
  • Turn the mug into a vase and fill it with a bouquet of flowers.
  • Write a bunch of mini Valentine notes (poems, reasons why you love them, memories, song lyrics), fold them up (maybe try origami hearts?), and put them in the cup for your lovely person to discover.
  • Leave a lipstick stain on the rim of the mug, as a little “kiss”.
  • Write a note in marker on the outside.

So, here’s to coffee dates, getting work done, comfy Starbucks chairs, coffeehouse music, and saving the world.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!!! Love yourself, love each other, love the world.


Author: Jackie Ibragimov

Welcome to 2016!

If you’re reading this, that means you survived the first two weeks of second semester; that also means you deserve not only a pat on the back but a full-body shiatsu massage. (I think we had a massage parlor set up for finals weeks? I don’t know, I was too busy working (*sleeping*) in Gleason to know what was going on around me. )

In these first two weeks of school, I’ve seen people not only cracking open textbooks, but also hitting the gym on a regular basis, whipping up some seriously tasty and colorful salads in WilCo, and kinda going to bed at a normal time (..kinda). So, it looks like we’re starting both the year and the semester off to a good start!

We at Team Green for Dining are also super pumped for this semester. We’ve already got some plans in the work for fun events this semester to educate you on being eco-conscious and sustainable with your eating habits (*give you free food*), and we’re also working on reforming some dining programs to continue making your life here at the UofR as awesome as possible and to help you keep your healthy New Year’s Resolutions possible while living on a college-student budget.

Something to remember from last semester: refillable coffee mugs get you a discount on hot tea/coffee, and cold cups get you a discount on iced tea/coffee. Prices should be set to the same level at all locations on campus.

Throughout the year, we’ll be posting similar news on Dining programs here on the blog. We’ll also post some fun reads that’ll be worthy of Buzzfeed competition for your procrastination time (bold statement, I know, but I’m gonna live up to it). So bookmark or follow us on Facebook and keep your eye open for Team Green activities in the Weekly Buzz!

Have any questions for Team Green? Post a comment on one of our posts or send us an email at We’ll be happy to help clear anything up for you!


Author: Jackie Ibragimov

No Waste Dinner 2015

Last week we held what Team Green calls a “no waste dinner” in Douglass Dining Center, which is where we compost all post-consumer waste produced at dinnertime. In three hours, we collected 100 pounds of food waste that would have normally been sent to the landfill. Sadly, we noticed many people dumping almost entire plates of food into the buckets. We were not only doing this event to teach people about the benefits of composting, but also to educate people about how much they really waste.

If we take what we composted that night to represent an average dinner, then we can assume over 400 pounds of food waste is thrown out each week at Douglass alone. Remember, Douglass is only open for dinner 4 days a week. That is a lot of waste; waste that can be prevented.

So what can you do to produce less food waste? First is to only take what you know you are going to eat, if you are still hungry, you can always go grab more.  Second, take smaller portions if you are not sure if you are going to like something so you do not end up throwing out an entire plate worth of food. You may not think you make a big difference but you do.

Check out the photos bellow to see a recap of the event!





Author: Gabryella Pulsinelli

What is Composting About?

I have an astounding statistic for you:

According to the 2011 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report, one thirds of all food products worldwide go uneaten.

That’s over 1.3 billion tons of food discarded each year. There are over 925 million people who suffer from hunger worldwide. Just let that sink in for a minute. We waste one third of all food and 925 million people are starving.

On top of that, most of the food wasted ends up in landfills and has major effects on the environment. When food breaks down it creates greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which contribute to global warming. All of these emissions can be avoided if we choose what we buy and consume more responsibly. Granted, no matter how responsible a person is, some food is bound to be wasted. There will be scraps of chopped vegetables, or crust cut off of sandwiches, or food you just absolutely can’t finish when out at lunch. Luckily, those can be diverted from landfills to compost bins.

UR Dining Services prides itself on composting everywhere it can, from Starbucks to Douglass. Did you know that Danforth is a zero waste facility? All leftover food and napkins are composted by our partnership with Waste Management. Even when the dishwasher breaks, all silverware, plates, and cups are compostable.

So why should we care about composting? Composting diverts food waste from landfills and creates nutritious fertilizer to grow more food. By not dumping our waste into the landfill, we also reduce carbon emissions.

Check out this article if you want to know more about food waste and its effect on the environment.


Author: Gabryella Pulsinelli

How to Properly Recycle Starbucks Drinks

Let’s see how much you really know about Starbucks:

  1. Are Starbucks cold cups recyclable?
  2. How about their warm cups?
  3. Can you refill your reusable mug with tea or coffee for just $1.39?

The answer to Q1 is yes, all cold cups are recyclable! Just make sure you dump out the ice and any leftover iced coffee. By recycling cold cups, waste is diverted from landfills, which prevents more land from being converted into waste facilities. Don’t forget the straw! (They’re recyclable too.)

Q2 is somewhat of a trick; half of the cup is recyclable. Any plastic lid used on a warm beverage is recyclable but the paper cup is not. So if you have been throwing out the lids on your coffee, start recycling them! (However, you can recycle the paper sleeve.)

The answer to Q3 is: absolutely! If you bring your reusable mug into Starbucks, you can get coffee or tea refilled for only a 1.39!

So why do we care about how much goes to landfills? The more trash we deposit, the more energy and oil we have to use for transportation and proper disposal of waste. The more we can recycle and compost, the more resources we can conserve.

So next time you get Starbucks, remember to recycle!


Author: Gabryella Pulsinelli