A Tale of Two Apples

America’s favorite apple, the Red Delicious, was first harvested in Iowa in 1874. Back then, Iowa was one of the country’s top apple growers. But if you live in Des Moines today, your apples probably come from Washington state, the source of more than half of the country’s crop. But there are a few important differences between a typical Red Delicious from an Iowa farm and its globe-trotting cousin from the Northwest.




Average Distance From Farm To Shelf

61 miles

1,722 miles

Additional Packaging

Put into bags or boxes for shipping

Coated with carnauba wax or shellac to preserve freshness; “Washington apple” sticker applied; put into bags or boxes for shipping

Earliest On-Shelf Date

Within 2 days of harvest

Within 1 week of harvest

Cold Storage

May be refrigerated for up to 2 months

May be kept in sealed, reduced-oxygen, controlled-atmosphere storage for up to 8 months


September to October

September to October


No later than mid-December


Transportation Impact

Shipping a pound of Washington apples to Iowa requires 30 times more fuel and releases 30 times more CO2 than shipping a pound of Iowa apples to a local market.

Sources: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Washington State Apple Commission


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