Why the Unexpected is Bad

We went apple buying today. I decided that I am going to make applesauce without sugar, and I might as well make it cheap. The orchard we went to doesn’t have apples pre-packaged in boxes; the buyer takes his own boxes or uses the supplied plastic bags. The apples are placed in large wooden bins about three feet deep. The buyer is allowed to choose which apples he wants from that bin. A version of pick-your-own without walking through the orchard.

Today, while choosing our apples, I overheard something that really shocked me. A lady walked up to the owner and asked for golden delicious apples. The owner told her which bins contained golden delicious, and told her the price– $10 per bushel.

The apples were on the small side. The weren’t waxed. They weren’t perfectly clean. Some had flaws. They were just what I wanted: cheap and unprocessed but plenty usable.

The lady didn’t want them. You could tell by the look on her face what she was thinking. These apples are ugly. They’re small. They’re dirty. They’re imperfect. They aren’t shiny or even the same size. And I have to work before I pay for them?! She asked the owner about the appearance of them. Something to the effect of “They’re so small.” The owner looked at her and said (very plainly and firmly), “Yes. They’re straight-run apples. You get to pick through and choose the ones you want. As people pick through the apples, the bad ones and small ones get left on top. Dig through until you find the ones you like.” The customer looked shell-shocked that SHE was expected to DIG through those SMALL, imperfect apples to find some that were acceptable. She tried again, “But these aren’t good apples.” The owner had enough. With apparent irritation in her voice, she said, “There are good apples in there. You have to dig through them to find the ones that you want. They are straight-run apples.” Obviously, the customer left.

And I started thinking. Why do we expect perfect? I actually think the answer is obvious. Go to the store. Everything that is everywhere is perfect. It’s all the same size (or very close to it). It’s all the same color. It’s all in the same packaging. It’s all clean. Because of our everything-is-genetically-modified, sprayed-with-pesticides,injected-with-colorings-and-flavors-and-preservatives world, we expect perfect. When, in reality, perfect isn’t everything. The most nutrient-dense, beautifully imperfect foods are natural. They aren’t cookie-cutter shapes. They are fine. Why are we so picky? Why aren’t we happy that we have food and food choices. We know we’re going to have plenty to eat.

Perfect food is expected. Imperfect food is, apparently, inedible and not worth our time and energy.

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