I'll Have the Apples with Tattoos!

By Roxanne Griffin

All Photos: Harry Strharsky

If fruit & vegetables could talk-

Mr. Eggplant, “Hey Peachy, Nice tramp stamp! Sexy! Where’d you get that tat?”

Ms. Peachy, “Don’t be so fresh. And I don’t mean that in a produce kind of way either. I’ll only tell if you promise to get one because your fake plastic polluting tattoo sticker doesn’t turn me on.”

Mr. Eggplant, “It’s a deal! But only if my tat says Peachy loves me.”

To which Ms. Peachy replies, “Baba ghanoush!”

Sadly I could run with this and have a lot of fun imagining conversations between fruit and vegetables. Luckily, the above indulgence is really all I ask you to bear.

Back in May (what happened to June?) I wrote about a company called Apeel. (How a Mysterious Sticker on an Avocado Gave Me Hope (10001ways.com)) I learned about this company from a plastic sticker on an avocado. While I was encouraged by the new technology the company had to offer in keeping produce fresh and reducing plastic waste, I wasn’t thrilled it was one of those pesky plastic produce stickers making the announcement. If you are not aware of the problems related to produce labels, you may be wondering what’s the big deal. I’ll attempt to fully address your burning curiosity in three sections: history of produce stickers, problems they create, and available alternatives. I’ll end with actions you can take.


We have Tom Mathison to thank for inventing the produce sticker back in the 1990’s. Mathison (who died in 2008) was a regional grower of organic produce in Washington State. He wanted something to distinguish his organic produce so it would stand out in the marketplace. It didn’t take long before his idea gained global appeal and was adopted by multi-national producers and grocery store chains. While the rationale for their use is stickers help speed up the check-out process and provide consumers with information; the reality is they are used for branding to ensure profit.