MANSON, Wash. — When you buy Washington apples from the grocery store, you might not think a lot about how they got from the tree to your shopping basket - but the truth is, they take quite the journey. And Manson Growers helps them along the way.
Manson Growers is a cooperative of about 150 independent apple growers, most of whom farm in the Chelan Valley. From Gala to Cosmic Crisp, farmers from around the valley drop off their apples at Manson Growers, who go into massive chilled storage rooms.
"We store around 1000 tons of fruit in each room," says Manson Growers President Jared England. "It's fun to go in there and experience that intense smell of a freshly picked apple."
The rooms keep the apples cold, which is how they're able to sell them year-round. After that, it's to the packing plant - but the apples don't just get boxed up. They also go through a photoshoot.
"There's a lot that goes into assessing the quality of the apples," England says. "We have some pretty high-tech equipment, and each apple gets over twenty pictures taken. And so what that determines is if there's any defects on the apple, the color, density, the shape - and all those are important in providing quality apples to the customers."
And it's not just the outside - they can see what's inside the apple, too.
"We have different equipment that monitors and assesses the quality of the apple that determines the pressure and if there's any rot spots or anything like that," England says.
After that, they're sorted, packed up by lightening fast employees, and sent off into the world - literally, the world. Manson Growers ships to more than thirty countries.
"I was engaged to my wife and her parents were actually in Tokyo at the time. And I was staying at their house and underneath the bed in their guest room was a box of Manson apples," says England.
So the next time you pick up a Washington apple from the store, know it went on quite the journey to get into your hands.
"We think our apples are the happiest apples in the world. Because they get to grow in such a beautiful area," England says.