Some times I hear something that just fills me with glee. Harry Burton, Apple Guru from Saltspring, was doing a workshop here this summer and handed me a piece of delicious, life affirming info. I was apologizing to the crowd as I showed Harry a small apple tree with a serious case of scab. Harry got excited pointing these dark, hardened patches to the crowd. Scab is a symptom of exposure to fungi. And this stimulates salvestrols, which are cancer fighting elements that occur in fruits and veggies that have never been exposed to fungicides. So here we had evidence of which apples were most likely to contain salvestrols. Scab – one of the conditions that we’ve been trying to breed out of apples for decades, in fact could be slowing or preventing cancer cells from establishing! I love a twist in the plot. It reminded me that many plant constituents exist to save the plant from viruses and other attackers, so sometimes the mostly motley of them are fullest of the constituents that saved them – and will save us. I chose my herbs a bit differently now that I know that.
My second bit of delight occurred when Ian Lai was giving us a workshop on fermentation. He was teaching us how to make vinegars and fermented beverages without resorting to store bought assistance. How can we start our fruit fermenting? It turns out that darn fruit fly carries a compound on the base of its minuscule little feet that start the process. Hence, if wanting to ferment something, just let the fruit flies have a few minutes with it, and then go about your business. I loved that, too. I got curious about how many other “bad” things were wonderful. Probably lots of them. Based on what an old-timer here said, there is a chance that apple scab, which is caused by fungus, actually helps fight cancer in humans.