I’m sure you’ll know who that’s supposed to keep away. I’ve always thought this strange, because many of the people – a.k.a. parents – who used that phrase on us when we were children had also harboured hopes for us to become doctors one day. Go figure.


It so happens that I do like apples. I seldom fall ill but when I do, I prefer not to visit the doctor. Instead, I’ll eat lots of apples and drink lots of apple juice. It works for me.


And that made me curious – was there any truth behind the proverb? So sometime ago, I decided to take a deeper look and came upon this: “An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work” by Caroline Taggart. The original phrase was, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread”. In the 19th century, the phrase evolved to “an apple a day, no doctor to pay”, and then in the early 20th century, it became “an apple a day sends the doctor away”. According to Taggert, the proverb we commonly use now, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, was first recorded in 1922 in Wales. “Apple” – English. “Afal” – Welsh. Well, close enough.


But there’s “proverbial truth” and there’s “nutritional truth”. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical apple serving weighing 242 grams contains 126 calories, a good amount of dietary fibre and some vitamin C. That all sounds good, and it’s just as well that I usually eat two apples at a go. I’ve been unwittingly making doubly sure all this time.


It’s also great that apples are versatile. Besides eating the fruit raw, apples are often juiced. Not only is apple juice yummy, even more nutrition can be extracted from the fruit this way. Then there are those who swear by apple cider vinegar mixed with a teaspoon of honey in warm water as a cure-all, and something to drink every morning and night as a prevent-all. I remember when I was young and fell ill, my grandmother would steam an apple for me and that hot, sweet mush was one of the most delicious and comforting things ever. Today, my grandmother’s 99 years old, physically mobile, mentally sharp and hasn’t had to see the doctor much. She must have eaten lots of apples!


I, for one, am extremely happy that apples are essential in the world of desserts. I love apple pie, apple crumble, and all sorts of cakes and treats made with the natural sweetness or tartness of apples, depending on which varieties are used. I have a sweet tooth, but I can simulataneously console myself with the thought that every extra slice of apple pie I savour puts another yard between myself and The Doc (hide that scoop of vanilla ice cream!). And to wash it all down with a refreshing cider, or better yet a nicely matured Calvados, that’s just sublime!


Another thing about apples: they’re resilient. Stored at below 5 degrees celcius, most varieties can easily keep for about two weeks, with a couple of super hardy varieties – Granny Smith and Fuji – reportedly lasting up to a year without significant degradation.


Thankfully, here at Sofresh, we’ve never had to put the apples we supply our clients to that stretch of a test. They move pretty quickly! Last season when the Costa Victoria called at Singapore, we supplied her with nine and a half tons of red and green apples. In a single cruise season, we’ll typically supply between 30 to 60 tons of apples to the cruise lines we service.


Admittedly, apples aren’t one of our big items compared to the many other fruits we supply our clients. For instance, we’ll be supplying another cruise ship with 75 tons of cantaloupes (or rock melon, as some better know the fruit as), and that’s just for her first visit! She’s scheduled to call at Singapore a number of times throughout the upcoming cruise season. But that’s another story for another time.


So, here’s a sign-off thought for parents to ponder: with tons and tons of apples and so many other fruits, all power-packed with vitamins and nutrition, going on board all the cruise ships we supply every year, perhaps it’s time to switch your ambitions for your children away from medicine – a career in fruit farming perhaps?


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  1. Ben,

    Very well written, although I’m not so sure Dr. Philip Soh, your uncle, will be happy with your 1922 Wales version of “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

    Well done,
    Uncle Eddie

    • Hi Uncle Eddie, thanks very much for your comments. Haha! He’ll forgive me, I’m sure (:


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