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Different Reactions - Hand Picked - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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August 3rd, 2009


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02:09 pm - Different Reactions - Hand Picked
On a note slightly related to my previous post, I just heard an ad on the radio where a local grocery store was advertising a particular type of corn, mentioning in glowing terms that it was hand picked. I find it interesting that my own reaction to that is clearly very different from what they intended. I hear that a particular type of agricultural produce was hand-picked and this doesn't call up images of loving care and extra-freshness in my mind, it calls up images of exploited agricultural workers performing back-breaking labor, and so I plan to specifically avoid buying that particular variety of corn. For me, heavily mechanized agriculture is a very good thing. I'd also prefer it to be organic, heavily mechanized agriculture, but I'd rather have machines picking my fruit and veggies rather than ill-paid and poorly treated immigrants.

In any case, what does this phrase mean to you?

When an agricultural product is described as hand-picked, this phrase makes you think of

exploited agricultural laborers
4(16.0%)
careful handling and higher quality
3(12.0%)
both A & B
7(28.0%)
other (explain)
9(36.0%)
ticky box
2(8.0%)

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:slothman
Date:August 3rd, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
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A | B rather than A & B. Could be either, could be both.
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From:andrewducker
Date:August 3rd, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
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It makes me assume it's not possible to machine-pick it, and they're advertising something they have no control over.
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From:heron61
Date:August 3rd, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
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I know that the vast majority of corn is mechanically picked, so I'm (among other reactions) puzzled that any corn would be.
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From:antayla
Date:August 4th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
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This. There's some food that simply must be hand picked, like apples.
From:machineiv
Date:August 3rd, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
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I'm not entirely sure I understand.

You're refusing to buy the product because of the vision it evokes when you think of their method of advertisement?

I know for a fact that there are hand-picked corn fields in Illinois, I worked on one for a while. I'm not sure about your local grocer, but it isn't a nonexistent practice.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:August 3rd, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
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No, I'm not buying it because almost all agricultural labor in the US is vile and exploitative. I've talked to a number of people who have picked and detassled corn, and it sounds like miserable back-breaking labor. Given that there are mechanical alternatives to hand-picking corn, I'm not interested in supporting back-breaking labor.
[User Picture]
From:amberite
Date:August 3rd, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Rly depends. If I see a sign at People's or one of the local farmer's markets saying "hand-picked", I'll think "teensy organic farm FTW." I've actually helped out on one of those and they're not exploited-agricultural-laborer-ville. Pretty much anything I hear from a major chain grocery is dubious, period.
[User Picture]
From:dancinglights
Date:August 4th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
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This!
[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:August 3rd, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
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I voted A&B, though | might work better.

Corn I don't know about. But for tomatoes, say, it says to me that the tomatoes are of an older variety not tough enough to be mechanically picked, and thus better tasting, as commercial breeding for toughness was at the expense of taste. Or something like that.

But don't think I've really seen "hand-picked". Vine-ripened, yeah.
[User Picture]
From:merovingian
Date:August 3rd, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
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To me, it calls up images of Madison Avenue buzzwords; that is to say, I don't ascribe much meaning to the term, except that someone is trying to sell something to me.

Sadly, I think "exploited agricultural laborers" is pretty much the default with produce today. (More specifically, "furtively hired exploited agricultural day laborers with no benefits.")

I don't think there's anything I see on packaging that makes me think of any other kind of labor conditions. Maybe something like "produced in worker-owned farms."

I guess I'd probably believe it if some food labelled "not picked by furtively hired exploited agricultural day laborers."
[User Picture]
From:merovingian
Date:August 3rd, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
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Hmm. I should probably mention my purchasing habits, since saying "it's almost all picked by exploited laborers" pretty easily leads to "so you might as well just forget about it and buy whatever."

I mostly get my produce through Rainbow Grocery, a San Francisco co-op, or in meals at work. I trust both Rainbow Grocery and Google to do a better job vetting producers than I could do, but I do sometimes purchase produce elsewhere, and as much as I'd like to think otherwise, that produce is probably produced by exploited day laborers.

I'd best give my produce consumption more thought in the future. Thanks for bringing this up.

Edited at 2009-08-03 11:02 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:blue_estro
Date:August 3rd, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
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Depends on the product and who is making the claim.

When at the local farmers market, and the growers are claiming hand picked for stuff that is machine pickable (corn 'fer instance), I usually take it to mean that the farm is small enough such that using a machine for the small amounts picked that morning is not effective. (Not all produce ripens at the same time, and the large harvesting machines just cull everything and the good stuff gets sorted out.)

In the case of stuff that has to be hand picked, then it is just market sloganry.

When a friend gives me "hand picked" goods, I tend to think they or someone they know picked it. (and "hand picked" translates to "sorry, we bruised them" :} )
[User Picture]
From:lavenderfae9
Date:August 3rd, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
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Instead of exploited laborers or heavily mechanized farming, can I choose option C? That would be join a CSA, buy from farmers' markets and the local co-op, and/or grow your own.
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From:heron61
Date:August 3rd, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
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That's fine for some things, but large-scale agriculture is necessary to provide sufficient food staples (rather than treats like berries). Thus, my preference is for heavily mechanized, organic corporate farming, which is thankfully becoming increasingly common.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:August 4th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
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Question about organic: How do they keep worms and other vermin out without pesticides? All the remedies I've heard about are labor-intensive, which would be impossible on a large farm.
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From:heron61
Date:August 4th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
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There are lots of solutions that don't involve toxin use, often the best use predatory insects like ladybugs.
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From:rjgrady
Date:August 4th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
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It really depends, but mainly A... while I am a big fan of manual processes when they produce a better product, it's clear to me that simple industrial equipment would vastly improve the ease and probably quality of most picking. I fail to see how hand-picking could be superior in terms of corn to machine-picking plus careful selection.
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From:queerbychoice
Date:August 4th, 2009 12:50 am (UTC)
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Hand-picked corn makes me think of agricultural workers being exploited, but machine-picked corn makes me think of agricultural workers being unemployed. I'm actually not sure which is worse (for the current workers probably being exploited is better, but for their kids better jobs might become available if these go away), so it wouldn't affect my decision about which corn to purchase.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:August 4th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
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I tend to think of produce that is more expensive and goes bad more quickly.
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From:talonstrike
Date:August 4th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
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I chose "other (explain)", which to me means greater risk of human error and greater risk of human-borne contaminants such as cold germs and the like. I want as few hands as possible to touch my food before I eat it, thank you.

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