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    An Apple a Day

    Vermont's Department of Agriculture markets apples to c-stores as a healthy snack alternative.

    MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vermont’s Department of Agriculture and other apple-producing New England states are marketing sliced-up apples to convenience stores as a nutritious snack, reported the Associated Press.

    "We hope the low-calorie apple slices will offer a convenient, healthier alternative to some of the junk food many people buy," Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr told the AP.

    Apple consumption has declined over the last 12 years, Steve Justis, a marketing specialist and apple expert for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, told the AP.

    "We've been on the lookout for some value-added products for apples for a while," he said.

    Fresh-cut produce is the fastest-growing segment of the produce industry, Justis said in the report.

    New technology and research has pushed up the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, he told the AP.

    McDonald's restaurants has been selling apple slices for more than a year, using about 1 percent of the U.S. apple crop, Justis said.

    "We're hoping to ride the coattails a little bit on McDonald's apple dippers," Justis said in the report.

    The apples are treated with ascorbic acid or vitamin C to maintain their white color and texture. The slices are then packaged at a facility in Keesville, N.Y., and coded to signify which were grown in Vermont, Justis told AP.

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