Do you know where the fruit in that cup has been?


My mother used to joke every year that she was giving up watermelon for Lent. It was a joke because (and I’m showing my age here) watermelon was decidedly not in season and therefore not available.

That’s the way it was: you had a few weeks to enjoy whatever fruits or vegetables that were in season. If you wanted to enjoy strawberries year round, you bought as many as you could and took them home and either froze them or made strawberry jam.

But now it’s March in New England and I’m craving fresh fruit. I’m a realist. Whatever I buy this time of year is not coming from a nearby farm. It might look good in the grocery store but it is (1) expensive and (2) tasteless. I can deal with point 1, but I get cranky with point 2.

Two weeks ago, I stopped in at a Whole Foods market and bought a container of cut, mixed fruit, and….it was delicious! Fresh, ripe, AND sweet!

It tasted so good, that I returned last Friday so I could buy more fruit. I’m focused on a cup with colorful assortment of pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. So beautiful sitting there on a bed of crushed ice. I and my taste buds can’t wait to get home and savor this cup of fruit.

But wait we must.

The aisle is very narrow and a woman and her husband and their shopping cart are blocking it. She is examining other fruit cups: first the cantaloupe, then the watermelon. She picks up each cup and holds it to the light. She raises it  so that she can see the bottom, then slowly turns it to see each piece of fruit. I’m surprised she didn’t pull a jeweler’s loupe out of her purse and peer through it so that she can examine the cut and clarity of each cube of watermelon.

She rejects the cup in her hand and, as she starts to return it to the bed of crushed ice, the lid pops off and the watermelon falls out of the cup and onto the ice.

Here’s an ethics question for you:  What would you do? Would you walk away? Skedaddle? Go tell an employee?

Or would you do what this woman did?

She immediately scooped up the fruit and some crushed ice with her bare hands, packed it back into the cup, put the lid back on, and returned it to the display.

Then she picked up another cup, put it into her cart, and went off to fondle some broccoli.

And THAT is when I decided that I’m giving up watermelon for Lent, too.

30 thoughts on “Do you know where the fruit in that cup has been?

    1. Good for you!
      This is precisely why I don’t help myself to the free samples of dips and sauces in the gourmet food shops. I’ve seen too many people take a cracker and double-dip. Too gross for me.


  1. I love those fruit mixes. They are like $15 for a pint and I can’t stop buying them all winter long. And now, I’m very, very worried about that habit. This was awesome.


  2. She’s probably one of those people who decide they don’t want a perishable item at the cash register and shoves the item in the magazine rack to spoil instead of handing it to the cashier.


    1. I remember once when I was travelling on business, I stopped for lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, solely because it was the only game in town.
      I got my order and sat down to eat. Meanwhile, at the buffet line, the staff was standing and waiting for the lunch crush. As they chatted, they would pick up something from the buffet table and eat it.
      It gave new meaning to the phrase “finger licken good.” I did fire off a letter to management about that one.


  3. I am a fruit cup inspector. My sense of justice would probably force me to scoop it into my hand, carry it around the store (half-filled other half in my other hand), find a trash can for the handful, pay for the half-filled cup, and then eat the previously rejected fruit cup as punishment for my clumsiness.

    And as I read that, I realize that I probably should be Catholic.


  4. I have never asked that question before until I read your post. I just can’t believe that woman did take that fruit from the floor and put it back like nothing happened. I will be honest, I hate going to the grocery store. I think people walk really slow and make me so stressful and sometimes I would just like to push them so they can walk faster, especially in the vegetables and fruit area. Now, I know why, thanks to your story.

    When I buy fruits, I try to buy the whole fruit and cut it myself in my home. I do not like when people touch those fruit cups. I’ve always believed that they transmit their bacteria, since there are just a few people who wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. Thanks to you, I will never buy those fruits. I will never know what happened before I got that fruit cup.


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