The fact, simply, is this: apples don’t “come true” from seeds-that is, an apple tree grown from a seed will be a wildling bearing little resemblance to its parent. Anyone who wants edible apples plants grafted trees, for the fruit of seedling apples is almost always inedible-“sour enoug ,” Thoreau once wrote, “to set a squirrel’s teeth on edge and make a jay scream.” Thoreau claimed to like the taste of such apples, but most of his countrymen judged them good for little but hard cider-and hard cider was the fate of most apples grown in America up until Prohibition. Apples were something people drank. The reason people in Brilliant wanted John Chapman to stay and plant a nursery was the same reason he would soon be welcome in every cabin in Ohio: Johnny Appleseed was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier.
The Botany of desire - Michael Pollan