Well, everybody, here I am again. Wait. Am I? Where is here? Tuesday. Yes.
One month of harvest season to go, and this is often where I find my mind these days. It’s just… somewhere. You all know the summer is hot. That has a lot to do with it. You also probably guessed that we climb a lot of ladders and carry a lot of boxes of fruit around, and that has a lot to do with it too. Hmm. A lot. What is a lot, you ask? Well.
A while back, someone asked me how many peaches we pick every year. We did a bit of farmer-math and came up with approximately 120,000 peaches. Just peaches. Add in the nectarines, and that might come out to about 200,000 fruits. Add in the apricots, and we might be somewhere around… I don’t know… 400,000? 450,000? Don’t ask about the figs. Melons. Tomatoes. Raspberries. Strawberries. Et al.
That might seem like a big number. But I’ve been considering lately how that number doesn’t even come close to the number of decisions that have to be made in order for our fruit to make it into your CSA boxes. This is getting fun, now. Let’s go back in time.
Step one. In the spring, we ‘thin’ the fruit, meaning that we remove about 50-75% of the little baby fruits that the trees produce in order to reduce the weight on the branches and increase fruit size and quality. Let’s say the average is 50%. That’s 450,000 decisions.
Step two. We pick each variety about 4 times as the fruit ripens gradually. So, for each ripe fruit that is picked, that’s another 450,000. But, as we go through multiple times, we also have to decide NOT to pick the unripe fruit. I can’t wrap my sleepy brain around how to calculate that, so let’s just say 450,000 again.
Step three. We sort the fruit into three ‘quality’ grades (perfect, semi-perfect, and ugly). You guessed it, another 450,000.
Okay, so, arithmetic. My calculator says 1,800,000 decisions. Just to thin, pick, and sort the stone fruit. Wow. Maybe that has something to do with it. Tuesday. Yes.