My husband and I went to a local apple orchard today. We’re down to 2 quarts of applesauce from 2013 and ready to replenish our pantry. We have the same conversation each year: how many quarts should we make? What pots do we use? What’s the best orchard to buy from? When are the macs best? Of course, I could expedite matters by keeping meticulous notes (as I do for many of our “repeat performances”) but somehow never have.
So, we forge onwards. Getting in the Wheego for an all-electric ride, we soon remember that the GPS is in the other car, but after assuring one another that each of us knows where we are going, we continue on our way. After several wrong turns and a detour to my husband’s favorite hamburger place (a 1950’s drive-in with car hop service!) we finally arrive in a drenching downpour. Well, what the hell … we weren’t planning to pick our own, anyway.
I had been told on the phone that if we wanted ½ bushel, we’d have to let them know when we arrive and they’d make it up. Fine. While a man does that for us, we stroll around and I notice that ½ peck bags of macs are $5.95. Having retired from math teaching 2 years ago, I’m a little rusty, but my memory says that 4 pecks are in a bushel. When the ½ bushel comes out, it’s labeled $25. Hmmm, if I bought 4 bags (2 pecks, or ½ bushel), it would be less than $24! To check myself, I ask the teenage girls working there how many pecks are in a bushel. No one knows. I then ask the man who packed it for us; he says, “about 4 or maybe 5.”
My husband (always the engineer) says, “the weight is the important factor; let’s weigh it.” OK – the ½ bushel weighs 17.7 pounds. Each ½ peck bag weighs about 5.5 pounds. Are you following this? That means if I buy 4 bags I’ll get 22 pounds for $23.80. In contrast, the ½ bushel offers us 17.7 pounds for $25! No contest.
We thank the man who packed up the ½ bushel for us, take the four ½ peck bags, and leave. What can I expect from a farm market where no one knows how many pecks are in a bushel?
If I were still teaching, this would definitely be a “teachable moment!”