Neighbor, Can You Spare a Plum?

Take a stroll through any neighborhood in this country and you’ll probably stumble across a market’s worth of produce ripe for the picking: Tree branches heavy with fruit extending over a fence; aromatic bushes of herbs growing stubbornly between more decorative plots; sidewalks littered with the fallen prizes of a glorious garden. Such sights tantalize our produce passions, and force us to ask, “To pick, or not to pick?”

Kim Severson, of The New York Times, addresses this moral dilemma and the potential for tasty scavenging in her piece, “Neighbor, Can You Spare a Plum?” Severson investigates the social and legal implications of what some might call drive-by-picking, and explains how many communities have joined forces to create an underground fruit economy – share, and share alike. Websites like and give fruit enthusiasts nationwide the opportunity to create networks of suppliers and consumers, and many groups have developed strict rules about how contributions are donated and distributed. But of course, not everyone agrees with this style of enterprise – especially when there are no price tags to be found.

Read Severson’s engaging investigation into the subversive underworld of fruit picking, and decide for yourself which side of the fence you’d pick from.


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