Pick Me a Winner

The thermometer says it’s still summer —but the look on everybody’s face screams that the season is over.

But September’s not no bad. In our house back to school and shorter days mean it’s apple picking time. At Indian Ladder Farms the trees are heavy with fruit, and if you go on a weekend afternoon, the rows of trees are busy with people filling their bags with the most beautiful apples you’ve ever seen.

The orchard is an idyllic place when your only picking half a bushel. Spend the whole day out there and it’s a different story. When my father was a teenager in the Bronx, he was sent away to the country with a work crew to pick apples. It was not idyllic. When I told him it was something we did for fun, he said, “I’d rather be dead than pick another apple.”

Today you can get Americans to pick apples for an hour, but not all day. Places like Indian Ladder Farms bring in crews from Jamaica to work the orchards —but not before they post the jobs locally. Only after they can’t find US citizens to do the work may they bring in foreign laborers. I asked an apple farmer about this once. “Local people we hire to pick apples show up the first day…and they never come back.”  Have a look at what farmers have to do to harvest their crop. That red apple you’re biting into is wrapped in red tape.