Remember those halcyon days when the person from whom you bought your produce was the person who’d grown it? Who’d tended the field with rake and hoe? Who strung tomato plants to a wooden post to help them resist their own weight? Who’d walked between the rows scouting for crabgrass or weevils, shielded her eyes as she looked up to the summer’s blue sky hoping for a cloud or some sign of rain? Who peeled back an inch or so of corn husk, maybe with a knife, to check its ripeness? Who due to an early frost spread blankets across the zucchini and potatoes? Who saw no distinction between talking to people and talking to plants?
Neither do I.
I hear told that these fine folk could tell you by sight or smell the difference between a golden delicious and a granny smith. A bartlett from an anjou. A russet from an Idaho. I suppose it’s an agricultural derivative of the power that allows parents to know their twins apart.
Today, the person who sells you your produce is just some employee, usually some kid either in or avoiding college. Unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a great, year-round market this kid at best only equipped to point you to the right aisle. The kid sells you not only produce but meat and baking goods and detergents and frozen foods and light bulbs and yogurt and grills and lawn chairs and electronics. You can’t possibly expect him to know each item you’re buying in any way other than perhaps where the barcode should be. And even that he only knows because if he takes up too much of your time scanning your purchases, you’ll likely get a bit gruff with him as you stand there just after a long day at work with all the other people who’re also there just after a long day at work and you’ve all nearly crashed into each other in the parking lot in one way or another and fought over shopping carts and run into each other in the aisles and so everyone’s pulse is a little too high, blood pressure a bit up from an hour ago, and so this kid has learned the most efficient ways to scan items not in an attempt to be helpful but out of simple survival.
I wish I didn’t have to shop at a grocery store. I wish there was a great, year-round market in my town. I wish this not only so I can ask the vendor questions about her produce and buy great breads and cheeses and not pay way too much for asparagus.
I wish this because I really hate that there are always stickers on my fruit.