Califonia Bountiful

Great produce with a story behind it

From juice to pies, apples link families and neighbors.

There's just something about the apple. Whether it's for your teacher, to keep the doctor away or as a healthy snack, apples are second to bananas in popularity in America. California is one of the nation's top sources of apples, and those who grow the fruit also are the source of many colorful stories.

In Apple Hill, El Dorado County, Gael and Joan Barsotti found a niche for their farm-grown fruit—making apple juice that's considered among the best in the business. Since Barsotti Apple Juice company began more than a quarter century ago, they have steadily grown and expanded their product line. Recently, Gael and Joan welcomed back their son, Mike, to run the business and help them keep up with demand.

Mike left a big city job as a chiropractor and said he has no regrets.

"My dad was looking for help and I wanted a little more excitement," Mike Barsotti said. "It's definitely a lot more hours doing this, but it's a lot more fun and more rewarding."

Another place in California where the apple has a bushel basket of history is Sebastopol, Sonoma County. There, 75-year-old baking wonder Betty Carr has an orchard and runs Mom's Apple Pie. She sells pies by the hundreds and is known far and wide for baking some of the top apple pies you'll find anywhere.

Betty was born Michiko Kameshina in Nagoya, Japan. The daughter of prominent parents with Samurai roots, she came to America in her 20's, earning her second college degree in Home Economics. That's where a professor taught her to make perfect pies.

Betty said one of the ingredients in her success is using locally-grown, high-quality apples.

"I think we are supporting ourselves that way—we are neighbors," she said.

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