Posted by: Chris Maloney | April 22, 2012

Tipping Our Growers and Pickers: Using the Internet to Distribute Justice and Goodwill.

Growing Grapes

Growing Grapes (Photo credit: cight)

I bought grapes from Chile today.  (Assorted hissing and boos.)  I’m sorry, I bought them at an LEED platinum certified environmentally conscious grocery store, does that help?

They were on sale at Hannafords.  So I bought them.  I brought them home, washed them off, and found a tag on the grape stems.  It looks just like the inspector tags I used to find in my T-shirts.  There’s a number like they have in the deli line “B 05” and above that is a scrawled number “502.”

So who is number 502?  Is it a grizzled picker in his fifties, carefully marking each bag to get credit?  Or is it a young kid, unfamiliar with the hustle of the grape fields, still carefully marking each bunch?

I’ll never know.  But maybe I should.  I know who my postman is, and my newspaper carrier.  I know my gas station attendant, I know my technical support person, and I know so many of the people that support my ability to do what I do each day.  Why shouldn’t I know the person who picks my food?

If I had I little more information, I could.  All I need is an internet address for the farm.  Add that to the slip of paper, and I could look up my picker.  Maybe I’d see a picture, and a paypal button to tip your picker for good service.  I might send a tip, but mention that one of the bunches was a little overripe.  Good job, but some room for improvement.

Maybe I’d get a little more information.  How long my picker has been picking.  How much he or she makes an hour for my lovely Chilean grapes.

The internet provides us with so much information, but sometimes the information we need the most is missing.

I can’t wait for the local farmers’ markets to start up in May here in Maine.  I’ll get a chance to meet my grower/picker and bring the supply chain that much closer together.



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