I don’t know who decided to put labels on fruit, but clearly it was someone who thought inventory control was more important than our peace of mind.
I’d suggest the perp spend 48 hours cuffed, manacled and pilloried in the produce aisle at Walmart. He’d be displayed around the clock on Christmas Eve and Super Bowl Sunday muttering, “It was me! It was me!”
If this evil doer can’t cut the mustard, a second punishment would be 500 hours of community service in which he peels labels from my apples, peaches and tangerines, and from yours.
The label I just took three passes at before getting the peeling started contained the following: a bar code, the apple variety – Pink Lady – and shouts-out to both the Great State of Washington and the U.S.A.
As far as identifying an apple goes, most normal Americans rely on a sign immediately above or below the display. If it’s not there, it’s on the bag, assuming that’s how you buy them.
So we already know what we’re hoping to eat, at least someday, once we get the label peeled off.
We also don’t need to know that the apple’s from Washington. Personally, I love Washington – after all, it gave us Starbucks, Boeing aircraft, Denzel and George – but I already associated the state with apples, just as I did Idaho with potatoes and Texas with total whack jobs.
Washington, we love you, but we don’t need your name printed on each apple we buy.
There’s also a serious redundancy in putting the state name and U.S.A. on the label in separate locations. Imagine a mildly sarcastic teacher saying this: “Now, class, is there anyone who didn’t know that Washington is in the Northwest and that the Northwest is part of America?”
“No. Ms. Johnson!”
So this all boils down to a bar code, and we know who that benefits. Apple conglomerates, that’s who, the ones Bernie Sanders would repeatedly wag his finger at were he to think about fruit labels and how they fatten Wall Street tycoons and leave the rest of us peeling for our lives.
I almost forgot to mention that these little labels also include a mysterious number. In my case it was “4128,” which made me wonder if it referred to the type of apple, the grower or to a Pink Lady conglomerate.
There’s no trusting Big Fruit.
Regardless of their function in this Orwellian scheme, the numbers only benefit the corporate growers who plant trees so close together all you can grow beneath them is sand and pea gravel.
I asked my research associate – that would be me – to find out what the four-digit number meant and this is what he (I) came up with: According to Bamboo Core Fitness (www.bamboocorefitness.com), an outfit that provides “Holistic Lifestyle, Health and Fitness Training,” PLU stands for “Price Look Up.”
Had I been consulted when fruit labels were conceived, I would’ve recommended PLO – “Please Leave Off” – but that might’ve prompted people to picture Yassar Arafat and put me in deep doo with Homeland Security.
It happens that PLUs are either three-, four- or five-digit numbers that allow people who care about such things to immediately identify a piece of fruit as (3) “Conventionally Grown”, (4) “Organically Grown” or (5) “Genetically Modified”.
There are no Nos. (1) or (2), but I suspect those are reserved for future categories in the War Against Human Intelligence.
Really, none of this has anything to do with you or me, the average Joe Peck of Fruit, but it is convenient for the fat cats who profit from us rubes eating an apple a day in an attempt to keep the psychiatrist away.
I figure life is hard enough without the annoyance of busting up a carefully manicured thumb nail to remove a sticky label.
The next thing you know they’ll be attaching a consumer survey to each apple, an 800 number for comments and an offer to aid your local elementary school for each 25 labels you succeed in peeling off and sending in to “Fruit Labels for Our Future.”
They put a feedback card on one of my tender peaches or pears and I’m going to seek damages for “bruising” or “irreparable harm.” And what if there happens to be tissue-devouring bacteria under the nail you use to peel a label that penetrates the fruit?
You, my friend, could be entitled to a monetary award!
It’s hard enough to get a kid to eat a piece of fruit these days without having to first peel a label. If you ask me, labeling benefits no one but the corporate bean counters, but I suppose it does give kids something new to whine about.
Have a comment? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.