Where Farm Stands Are Built on Trust

Last week, I was back in the coastal farming community that I call home, Tiverton/Little Compton, Rhode Island. Amazingly enough, this bucolic place manages to stay old-fashioned, mostly because it is out-of-the-way, but also because it is owned by old farmers, rich people, and townies, all of whom seem content.

The Honor System

I am happy to report that several self-serve roadside farm stands are operating there. Be it berries, tomatoes, dahlias, sunflowers, eggs, bread, or whatever else, this is how it works: the customer drives up, reads the signage, makes a selection, tallies the purchase, and leaves the money in the cash box. The retail business operates of itself while the farmer tends the farm.

As it turns out, trusted people don’t steal. In a story, The Psychology of the Honor System at the Farm Stand, NPR interviewed Michael Cunningham, a professor who studies good and bad behavior. He told NPR, “trust seems to be at least as strong a motivator as guilt.” Consider this: the customer trusts the seller to sell a good and safe product and the seller trusts the customer to pay. Cunningham explained, “I get something delicious and I also get a good feeling about myself. Both of those things make me feel good about the world. I’m in a good place. It’s a win win.”

Cunningham found that about “25 percent of people are consistently honest, 25 percent mostly honest, 25 percent are dishonest, and 25 percent are erratic.” Still, the honor-system must be worth it to the small farmer, and, remember, a small town sees all.

Your thoughts: Should more businesses be built on a trust model?

My Favorite Icy, Fruity Treats

My daughter, a Brooklyn foodie, turned me on to my new favorite cooling sweet treat for the summer.

New York: Soft Serve Fruit

Soft Serve Fruit is THAT good. It is nothing but pureed fruit mixed with filtered water and cane sugar. Soft Serve Fruit is one appropriate way to enjoy fruit puree: watered down and eaten with a spoon. Soft Serve Fruit it is real fruit with vitamin C and a fair amount of fiber. It comes in four seasonal flavors and it is so low in calories that they almost don’t count.  Soft Fruit Food Company stores are found only in Manhattan and the Hamptons. I go to the Union Square location at 17th Street and Broadway, around the corner from where I discovered Olympus Authentic Greek Yogurt, my other favorite food. Fresh food wise, Union Square is the place to be.

At Home

You can make soft serve fruit in a food processor at home. Here is one recipe.There are others all over the Internet.

Rhode Island: Del’s Lemonade

At home in Rhode Island, my favorite icy treat is Del’s Lemonade, fruit ice made from fresh lemon juice, plenty of zest included. Del’s Lemonade is Great Grandfather DeLucia’s recipe from Naples back in 1840.  (A bit of food history: The first Italian ices, granitas and sorbets were made with lumps of snow from Mount Etna. How romantic!) Lemon ices are so thirst-quenching and delicious, but watch out for brain freeze! Del’s doesn’t list the Nutrition Facts :) Suffice it to say, Del’s is full of sugar.

Your thoughts: Do you love fruit ices?  Please share your favorites!

Brooklyn Is Like a Tropical Vacation

Heat or no heat, Brooklyn feels like a tropical vacation. I mean where else do you see an orange peeler machine, the kind that turns the orange round-and-round while the peel falls away in a ribbon? That’s because Brooklyn is Hispanic among other nationalities, especially during the summer.

Case In Point: I was walking to Staples to buy ink cartridges, as self-employed people do, past vacant lots and bodegas on a busy two-lane street, when I caught sight of a fruit drink operation. There was a truck with lots and lots of fresh fruit, condensed milk, sugar and sugar cane, juice, water, ice, and a blender powered by a simple motor. The fruit man was from the Dominican Republic and the set-up belonged to his cousin. (So many cousins!) A small drink (12-ounces) sold for $4.00 and a large was $6.00. I got a small pineapple-banana-milk “smoothie” and it was tasty, aromatic, filling, and light. The fruit man sold four smoothies in the 15 minutes I was there. That unlikely location turned out to be a goldmine for him and, as the gringos say, a win-win all around.

You Need a Fruit Cart

Because I’m a health blogger and a Tweeter – and I’m an RD who works with web developers and PR agencies – and I live in NYC – I’ve been going to some of the Social Media Week:New York events. On Tuesday, I was at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, an advertising agency on windy Hudson Street, home of the Health & Wellness Content Hub.

One presentation, Designing for Desire, was about getting people to change, a topic with which I am intimately familiar. The presenter, Jessica Hammer, a research fellow at Columbia University, explained how to think about change in terms of the changee’s identity and desires and what they like to do. She then asked us to divide into small groups to design an activity to promote “eating healthy” that involved making a change in a space (vs. on a computer…)

Eat More Fruit

Our group decided that people want to make it easier to eat fruit, and we reasoned that, in the workplace (our chosen space), people have related desires to socialize, take breaks and learn from one another. And so, we created the Fruit Cart to meet those needs.

The scenario: the fruit cart arrives on an intermittent schedule (better to get you hooked) sometime between 2:00 – 4:00 each day, announced by a bell. (The ice cream man!) The bell signals workers to leave their desks to buy fruit at the cart for a nominal fee, and then to go to a communal area to take a short break. We tried to recreate the social experience that smokers get to enjoy.

And to fill the au courant need for social media and gaming, we would make a Facebook page. We could report the money spent on fruit, and maybe there could be a contest in-between offices or departments, and at the end of the year, the company could match the money spent with a charitable donation – another contest to choose charity, right? There would be no limit to the games and content on our Facebook page.

Your thoughts: Do you think our idea could work? Would you like a fruit break?