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REGARDING JUICES: A VERY SHORT STORY

REGARDING JUICES: A VERY SHORT STORY

Years ago I worked for a short time at a produce company. I responded to an ad in the classifieds, for a salad prep job, thinking it was a restaurant. It turned out to be a produce company, but because there was a recession and I needed work, I didn’t turn it down. Better to have some money than none.

The job was to prep veggies for restaurants. That’s where I learned that carrots had oil in them. Peel a hundred pounds with rubber gloves on and you’ll know it’s true.

We’d sit around peeling in a refrigerated room, talking to ease the boredom of the repetitive work. One day, this black woman was recalling working in a tomato processing plant–on the conveyor belt line, sorting tomatoes, categorizing them for various uses.

You should have heard her talk. Wow. She knew everything there was to know about tomatoes, and talked with laughter, fright and lots of animation. The ones for cans, good. The ones for soup, not too bad. But the ones–the ugly ones–man. “They scared even me”, she’d say. ‘They didn’t throw anything away. You couldn’t throw one tomato into a basket. There were no baskets’. “What was wrong with them?”, I asked. ‘Beards. They had beards. Big beards. I didn’t want to look–or touch. But I had to. It was disgusting. I haven’t drank tomato juice since. That factory cured me. That’s where the bearded ones go–into tomato juice’.

The beards she was talking about is mold. Mold that you wouldn’t eat. You’d throw the tomato away, rather than eat it. I’m not too big on juice knowing the mold goes in with everything else. At least there’s no mold in soft drinks. Maybe we should fortify the soft drinks, instead of pureeing moldy fruits. I imagine grape juice has a lot of mold in it. Who’s at fault for putting moldy fruit into juices? No excuses.

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