Food - Drink
How The Fall Of The Soviet Union Decimated Kazakhstan’s Prized Apple Crop
By RYAN CASHMAN
Even 30 years after its dissolution, the effects of the fall of the Soviet Union are still being felt today. The fall of the Soviet Union impacted many countries, and while the demise of the USSR may be seen as a net positive for world history, the resulting change in Kazakhstan almost cost the country one of its most prized cultural crops: Wild apples.
A little-known fact is that the wild apples that gave rise to modern pomology can trace their roots back to the Tian Shan mountains of southern Kazakhstan, where Malus sieversii apples have grown wildly for thousands of years. The apples were a well-kept Russian secret, and carts of apples were shipped to Moscow to satisfy Russian cravings.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, western orchardists got to visit these orchards for the first time. John Selborne, Earl of Selborne, described them as “…a remarkable sight.” Unfortunately, with the massive economic upswing created by the end of the USSR, many orchards were cut down to make room for new construction, however, a few holdouts still exist.