Wasteland: Apples in the context of a linear model of industrial production

Image result for thought provoking graphics on apples and food waste

(see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/05/19/the-apple-industrys-strange-savior/ for image cred)

For our project, we chose the topic of food waste, and in particular apples in the Seattle area. We made a children’s game inspired by Candyland that showed the (linear) path an apple makes as it is grown, shipped, stocked, and eventually eaten by consumers. We called it “Wasteland.” It is mostly geared toward waste on a consumer level and is accessible to children. We divided the board into different stages, the first being how apples are produced, then how they are processed in stores and restaurants, and then how they are consumed by individuals. I focused my research on waste in the apple production stages. For example, when they first start the game, there is a cartoon character who tells them a few facts about how the apple industry works. When players stop at this section of the board, there are little cutouts of apples that we made with facts teaching them about the process an apple farmer goes through when producing apples.

My work was on the way that apple production has become industrialized. One observation that we discussed was the fact that it is difficult for kids to understand, perhaps, but quite useful for the adults playing with the kids to know. From what I found, labor shortage and high standards for fruit imposed on farmers by a small pool of apple buyers leads to most of the waste happening in the stage of apple production. This leads to an increasing amount of the fruit not even being harvested in what is termed “walk bys.” These take place up to 30% of the time, in which farmers literally choose to walk the orchard and leave it unharvested, due mostly to not having enough laborers to harvest the fruit. This could also be due the fact that they normally plant about 10% more trees than they need for insurance, and they don’t invest the labor in harvesting those trees if they don’t need to.

In terms of how the project gave back to the community of Seattle human beings, we gave enlightening knowledge to a young generation of apple eating Seattleites. We played a game about food waste with a group of children from one of our group member’s church. This project was a chance for these kids to gain more knowledge about food waste while playing a fun, quirky, apple oriented game. I can see connections to food waste and the apple industry in Karen’s discussion on a linear thinking model as well; the aesthetic of the apples, the pressure on farmers to plant more, and the lack of regard for waste, all of these were influences I saw that influence a linear way of thinking in the apple industry.

1 thought on “Wasteland: Apples in the context of a linear model of industrial production

  1. Elena S Spasova


    I am in your section and I found your presentation to be really unique and creative! I think the way you went about doing your action project was very effective because you are targeting kids who, like you said, are our future. This is an extremely good method of marketing to the future generation because they still find games interesting. My younger brother is 7 years old and I am constantly trying to find creative ways to introduce him to tough topics and generally show him how to be a better person. The children really will determine the rest of this planet’s history so I agree with you that we should invest time into them. Even if it’s about something as simple as wasting an apple, there are learning opportunities everywhere which we should cease. I think in the future, more conservation and political groups should target children to prepare them for what reality has to offer. Some might argue that this forces kids to grow up too soon. I would argue that it is not about how fast you grow up, it is about how well. If kids are taught to think compassionately and ethically when they are young, these patterns will only continue and our world will only get better for it.


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