Friends don’t let friends go apple picking


Fall: that time of year when all of your friends drag you our of your warm apartment and into the wild to gather up one of the crappiest fruits in the game.

For fun.

Sometime in the last two decades, apple-picking became a seasonal pilgrimage for urban millennials seeking to get in touch with “rural America” — without, you know, actually having to get in touch with rural Americans. Every year, they travel hundreds of miles to get their hands on whatever produce they could’ve picked up at the store, then have the audacity to call this nausea-inducing journey “a good weekend.” 

Forget what your friends tell you. Burn your New York Times travel section (why do you read that anyways?). Just don’t go. Apple picking is nothing more than a desperate attempt by lobbyists in the fall industry to rebrand their season as something more than a chilly prelude to winter.

Don’t buy the hype, even if it comes in cider donut form. 

If you’re from an area that isn’t New York or LA, where apple picking is seen as labor, not recreation:  1. bless your heart and 2. apologies while I explain.

Apple picking journeys typically begin like this: someone in a friend group, usually the person that thinks group texts are fun, initiates a conversation that the group should “Come together and do something fun before it gets cold out!” It’s an innocuous enough prompt and people should be able to come up with some inoffensive suggestions: perhaps a hike to a beautiful mountain, or at the very lamest, a wine and board games evening. 

But if it’s late October, all conversations will automatically end at the same shitty day trip trap: apple picking. Research that has yet to be conducted has shown that folks will always agree to the activity regardless on their actual interest level, guided by the belief that apples are delicious (?) and “this time will be different.”

They’re wrong. As someone who’s been dragged on these schleps for years, some variables will always remain constant: the garbage rental car everyone is forced to squeeze into and pretend “is a great deal,” the “beautiful apple orchard” with “beautiful rows of apples” that takes 10 minutes to pick max, and the mediocre homemade apple pies that follow which have nothing on the ones you could’ve picked up from Stop and Shop for 1/1 millionth of the goddamn price. 

If you’re lucky, you can wait while your friends finish by sitting on a bag of hay and searching for a cell signal. Maybe you’ll have just enough bars to scroll through Twitter while everyone else is dragging their slow ass through an overpriced pumpkin patch. Remember to wear closed-toes shoes. I’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer a strand of hay in my flip-flops, and oh, reader — how it tickled. 

You care *that much* about apple cider that you’re willing to drive 300 miles for it? Borrow my Costco card and drive down the block. You won’t be disappointed.

There are apple farmers who’ve taken advantage of the apple picking trend and others who just don’t understand why urbanites want to do backbreaking migrant labor for leisure. Apple laborers will often pick up to six tons of apples per day, at great cost to their body. Compare that to a person like me who will pick up say, four apples, throw them in a tote bag and whine the whole walk home. Keri Wilson, whose family has had an apple farm for over 125 years, had this to tell The Atlantic of recreational apple pickers: 

“Now they’re coming out because they want to have little Sarah get a photo under the tree holding onto a piece of fruit,” Wilson said. “They buy two pieces of fruit or three pieces of fruit, and they walk around the orchard as if it were an animal park.”

Apple farmers know that they’ll need to sell you more than strictly apples to make a profit, which is why you’ll often see apple cider donuts, apple butter, and other apple-centered propaganda. And it’s not just apples these orchards are pushing; it’s a whole apple lifestyle brand. 

Apples that will make customers feel in touch with their humble agrarian roots, whatever that means. 

Apples that will provide people with the compelling fantasy that they should be a farmer, even though they’d be making oh less than $5 an hour. 

Apples that will give people a taste of “the rustic life,” which many New Yorkers believe is composed entirely of Shaker baskets and homemade jam but which is, in reality, mostly snow plowing. 

Apples that will make people feel that apples are the superior fall fruit, even though come on now — we all know it’s pears.   

I love nature as much as the next person. I’m happy to see farmers find a way to get my super cheap friends to shell out cash. I’m just not sure why picking apples from a tree necessitates a whole boring carsick trip when we can just head down to our local bodega, pick up the least wormy of the bunch, and call it a day. 

Is there anything more beautiful than eating your groceries from the comfort of your own bed, protected by a cool sheath of paper towel? It has the best views of your iPad in town!

Spare me your Pinterest listicles. It’s time to reclaim the suburban consumerist lifestyle. Forego the boring bourgeoisie pseudo-adventures. Embrace our deepest supermarket-driven inner self and pull out our rewards cards.

Our Instagram stories deserve more than this.

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