#044 – Susan Futrell: The Incredible Story Behind Every Apple, Why Sustaining Family Orchards is Essential, & How You Can Help our Food System

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Apples are such a staple food for so many people in the United States – almost everyone has a nostalgic memory of picking apples, baking (and eating!) apple pie, or even drinking a kid’s juicebox full of apple juice. But have you ever wondered about the story behind every bite of that apple?


Susan Futrell, author of Good Apples: Behind Every Bite and Director of Marketing for the nonprofit Red Tomato, joins us today to share some incredible intel on apple history, and the economic and ecological forces that shape consumer choices (oftentimes, unbeknownst to the consumer).



The way we organize our food system has a big impact on our lives and our world… so there’s a lot at stake! Susan has spent her career working in sustainable food systems, and she’s passionately committed to showing why sustaining family orchards (just like family farms) is essential for the soul of our nation.

We also discuss:

  • The Futrell dinner table
  • Why Susan wrote about apples
  • A day in the life of an apple farmer
  • How consumer trends influence produce farmers
  • What “righteous produce” is & who Red Tomato are
  • Developing Eco Apple®
  • The democracy of apples


Susan Futrell’s Bio:

Susan Futrell has worked with food businesses, nonprofit organizations, and farms in marketing and distribution for over 35 years, including over two decades in the natural and organic foods industry. She is a freelance writer, essayist, and consultant, and has an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa.


Futrell is currently Director of Marketing for the nonprofit Red Tomato, which does marketing, logistics and market development for a network of fruit and vegetable farmers in the northeastern US. She helped develop the Eco Apple® program, a collaboration among fruit growers, researchers, and scientists from land grant institutions and nonprofits, which supports advanced ecological orchard and pest management practices with a goal of sustaining local fruit production in the US.


Futrell writes and speaks frequently on the challenges of bringing local foods to a broader segment of US eaters, sustaining family farms, and the history, science, and joys of apples. She’s a fifth-generation Iowan and lives with her husband, Will Jennings, in Iowa City, Iowa.  She divides her time between Iowa City, Boston, and mid-coast Maine.