When it comes to pesky everyday things, produce stickers are tops on my list. It used to be, I bought an apple, an orange, a pear, that’s all I got. It didn’t come with a little sticker that’s hard to read and hard to remove.
And once I remove it, where am I supposed to put it? I stand there, the sticker stuck to my finger, wondering, “Can it go in the garbage? Is it compostable?” I swear they are made of plastic—but what kind? Recycle approved or envir- no-no?
Somehow, they wind up in my hair and on my clothes. Once, I walked three aisles in the grocery store with one stuck to the back of my pants. My sister pointed it out when I passed her in the wine aisle. “Hey barcode buns,” she said, “Looks like you sat on a fruit.”
Another time, I baked one up in an apple crisp because I forgot to peel it off the apple. As I watched my husband shovel in bites of dessert, he suddenly he stopped.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
“Think I got a seed husk.”
Then he reached in to retrieve it, and out came a goo-caked produce sticker. “I bet this is good for a prize later,” he said depositing the sticker on the rim of his plate.
Annoying as produce stickers are, my husband and I have turned them into a game. Anytime I wash a piece of produce, I peel off the sticker and stick it where I know he will see it—usually the cookie jar lid. Then, he waits until I’m not looking, and moves the sticker someplace he knows I’ll see it—like the spray bottle, bleach bottle or booze bottle. As soon as I find it, I move it to, say, his package of favorite cheese. We can go back and forth with one sticker for a week. Who knew produce came with a toy?
Now that I think about it, maybe the produce powers-that-be are serving us up a little fun through the stickers. After all, consumers toss pumpkins, and spit watermelon seeds. Heck, who hasn’t clowned around with a big, blue banana label stuck to their forehead? Seems to me, it’d be nice to expand on the forehead fun, you know, branch out with a little sticker variety.
Yesterday, I took a survey. I peeled off the stickers on all the produce in our refrigerator and found 15 different stickers from four different countries: USA, Canada, Mexico and Chile. Talk about world trade—Chile is over 6000 miles away!
After the survey, I decided to play a joke on my husband. I stuck all the stickers to my forehead, and then waited for him to notice. He passed me five times, looked right at me twice, but never said a word. I didn’t know if he noticed, and decided he’d better just stay mum or never noticed at all. When I finally asked him, he said he thought I was trying some new beauty treatment.
Peeling off the stickers, I got the idea to collect them like postage stamps. Does philately include all kinds of stamps or only postage stamps? Anyway, I can’t wait to see how many different countries I can come up with.
NASA says one day we’ll have a colony on Mars complete with hydroponic produce farms. I wish they’d hurry up and blast off. I want to be around to collect the produce stickers from the Martians we’ll be trading with.
Marie Lemond is an essayist living in Washington State. She is a plucky nature lover with a funny bone for daily life. Her work has also appeared in Country Magazine.