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The problem with apple-picking

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, HOST:

Finally today, we're going to talk about apple picking. Lots of people do it each fall, and they enjoy it. Or so it seems when you ask them about it. We picked some apple pickers at an orchard in Red Hook, N.Y., to tell us about their experience.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: It's probably my favorite fall tradition. It's also, like, more meaningful and more delicious and more fun if you pick it yourself, for some reason.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: More fresh, and it's about the experience and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: It still, like, fascinates me to look at an apple. And, like, it's still this kind of little miracle to me.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: For me, it's like a memory. I've been doing this since I was a kid. I remember doing it every year.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: And what's a better Saturday activity for tons of mostly city kids than going apple picking if you're in the country? Would you guys say it's been a very pleasant experience?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: It's been a really a good - sure, yeah.

FOLKENFLIK: It also seems that not everyone is a fan. Let's take Rachel Sugar. She's a pop culture journalist who recently posted a piece on New York magazine's food blog Grub Street called "Apple-Picking Is Too Easy." The piece begins with this memorable phrase, and I quote, "the most devastating lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Here's an example. It would be fun to go apple picking," end quote. And Rachel Sugar joins us now to talk about it. Rachel, welcome.

RACHEL SUGAR: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

FOLKENFLIK: Of course. So give us the abbreviated version here. What, in your view, is the problem with apple picking?

SUGAR: Well, the problem with apple picking from my perspective - and I buy into the fantasy of apple picking as much as anyone. Like, I want to want to go apple picking very much. When you go apple picking, though, or at least in my experience, it is too easy. It is - you pick some apples. And then you've picked them, and you're done. And it's been, like, 15 minutes, and there's, like, no obstacle. It's made for you to go pick them.

FOLKENFLIK: You go to pick apples. You're able to pick apples. This - for you, this is - what? - it's just served up on a platter.

SUGAR: Yeah. I didn't overcome anything. It's like a little more challenging than going to the grocery store, but mostly logistically.

FOLKENFLIK: I mean, you're write in here, also, it's hard to stay cynical about apple picking. Why would you want to stay cynical about apple picking?

SUGAR: I think mostly to mitigate disappointment. I'm remembering the last time I went apple picking, which was a few years ago, but I was the one that was really spearheading it and, like, forcing friends who did not particularly want to do this to do this. And then we got there, and it was over very quickly. And it was a lot of rigmarole for, like, not that much fun. Just the ratio of planning and fun and satisfaction is off to me.

FOLKENFLIK: You know, I got to say, seems to me a stroll in an orchard - you know, I've got small kids. It's fun to take kids. You talk about fun. It is fun. They get to have donuts. There's apple cider to offer. You might even go for a little hay ride on the thing. But surely there are rougher targets here, right?

SUGAR: Absolutely. I mean, look; like, I think people should seize joy where they can find it. I don't have children. It would be more fun - also more effort and more logistics - but more fun to go with children. My experience with children is that they're very bad at finding things. So the thing that I'm saying is very easy, which is - like, apples are at eye level. You reach up, and you get them, and then you're done. Like, if I was 2, that might be more enchanting or 5 or 8. I think I'm specifically sort of talking about this, like, urban, childless millennial, let's go apple picking like it's a lifestyle moment.

FOLKENFLIK: All right, so let's cross apple picking off your list. What are a few autumn activities that Rachel Sugar does enjoy?

SUGAR: You know, I mean, I like a lot of activities that involve sitting and talking to people. Sitting around a fire is a nice thing to do in the fall, I think. I'm big on sitting.

FOLKENFLIK: Maybe some s'mores ahead.

SUGAR: Yeah.

FOLKENFLIK: We've been hearing from Rachel Sugar, author of a piece for New York Magazine's food blog Grub Street called "Apple-Picking Is Too Easy." Rachel Sugar, thanks so much for being here today.

SUGAR: Thank you so much for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.