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The Fruit Tree App That Left Me Hungry

Stevanie Wazna-Blank | July 26, 2013 | Lifestyle Story City Life

With urban gardens popping up all over the city, Find Fruit is an app that uses your location to pinpoint fruit trees in your neighborhood. "Cos fruit from your 'hood is good," its makers claim—and for the low, low price of 99 cents, their app will reveal the free bounty your city has to offer. The country girl inside of me grinned with anticipation to "live off the land", even if it was just the concrete jungle of San Francisco. So off I went, skipping like a schoolgirl, to forage my neighborhood's abundance.

How naive I was.

I started by opening the app and selected "In Season" for the search option. I was home in the Mission, and all kinds of trees sprouted up around me! Find Fruit knows where they are because other users upload the information. Score another point for the sharing economy.

Or so it seemed. Most of the trees were plums, figs, or loquats. That was a letdown, because seriously, what the hell is a loquat? Undeterred and full of optimism, I headed out my door.

But quickly, it became clear that many of the fruit trees were vaporware. It wasn't much fun to tromp several blocks only to find nothing. But then, once I’d finally found a real tree, the fruit was too high to be picked. I just hadn’t anticipated that I’d need to haul around a ladder. Yet, I suppose if there was a lot of low-hanging fruit then it’d be plucked up already.

Another obstacle I encountered was that the fruit tree (in this case a well-endowed fig tree) would be behind a fence. As excited as I was to finally find some fruit, I wasn’t about to scale a chain link fence while wearing a dress.

Saddest of all, the fruit that I did forage, well, sucked. That's where the loquats come in.

The plums I found were overripe and most of them were splattered on the sidewalk. The loquats I managed to pull down to hand's reach were unripe and nasty. I quickly spat it out on the sidewalk (accompanied by disgusted sounds and spittle), and a couple passing by looked at me with a “what the …?” expression. So it seemed the Mission, home to some of the great restaurants of our city, was not feeding me well today.

Thus, I decided to head over to my old stomping grounds in Berkeley and see what I could find.

I figured I’d have more luck, what with the warmer weather and extra foliage, and I did. But not much. I encountered the same problems that I did in SF, except instead of unripe loquats, I found unripe avocados. There was also a more positive outcome—I found several fruit trees that weren’t on the map. Including: berry bushes, an apple tree, and a tasty yellow plum tree full of fruit. Although these discoveries satisfied some of my foraging fantasies, it wasn't with any help from the app.

After all my unsuccessful foraging, with sticky hands and the saddest haul of produce, I was legitimately hungry. And so, dejected, I turned on Google Maps to hunt down a Safeway and forage myself a meal.

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