July 19, 2005
Advances in Human Knowledge
Posted by Dave Hoffman

The NYT offers this charming story about fruit distributors' plan to tattoo fruit with laser codes, eliminating the need for the stickers that currently mar the consumption experience.  As with all business technology stories, there are different perspectives.

The consumer's [how did the reporter find this person?]:

Sticker-removal duty took Jean Lemeaux of Clarksville, Tex., half an hour one day last week.

"I was picking all the little stickers from the Piggly Wiggly off my plums and my avocado pears and my peaches," said Ms. Lemeaux, 76. "Then I had to make fruit salad out of the ones that got hurt when I took the stickers off, and then I had to wash the glue off the other ones before I put them in the fruit bowl."

"One time," she said, "I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror and there were two of them up in my hair."

The entrepreneur's:

"With the right scanning technology the produce could even be bar-coded with lots of information: where it comes from, who grew it, who picked it, even how many calories it has per serving," said [the entrepreneur]. "You could have a green pepper that was completely covered with coding. Or you could sell advertising space." [Emphasis added - and I can't say how much I look forward to reading ads for new cars on my morning grapefruit]

And, the artist's:

"For literally hundreds of years, artists have immersed themselves in the color and curvature of the perfect peach or apple," said Joseph Rishel, a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art who specializes in Cézanne. "So a tattoo sounds like a desecration."

"But then again," Mr. Rishel said, "there are those who say that Cézanne himself used artificial fruit."

Interesting question comes to mind: is tattooed fruit still kosher?

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Comments (4)

1. Posted by Dan Markel on July 19, 2005 @ 10:20 | Permalink

funny point, funny story, but my sense is that Leviticus 19 (i think that's the source) prohibits tatoos on persons, not pears and plums...otherwise, it would be hard to make a decent peach coffee cake, the ultimate dessert for a good shabbos meal.

2. Posted by Kaimi on July 19, 2005 @ 16:56 | Permalink

Since the original prohibition is based on, inter alia, cloven-hoofed-ness, I wondered once with an observant Jewish colleague of mine whether a genetically modified pig (with its hooves altered appropriately) would pass muster.

He wasn't sure.

3. Posted by Shag from Brookline on July 20, 2005 @ 5:38 | Permalink

Let's go the next step and implant in each newborn a Lojack type device that will permit the federal government to track in various ways that newborn for the rest of his/her life. Perhaps the commerce clause would authorize this, as the newborn's life would surely have an impact upon interstate commerce.

4. Posted by Plainsman on July 20, 2005 @ 16:23 | Permalink

I must admit, Shag, I find this prospect kinda creepy. Like the stickers were actually a problem?


I can't say how much I look forward to reading ads for new cars on my morning grapefruit.


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