24 June 2012

Fruits of Labour

When fruit and vegetables are sold in ad hoc shops, they are most often found in the forecourt -- the space out front between the threshold and the property line.  In my neighbourhood, fruit is also sold at a number of kiosks located on the pavement by entrances to the Tube.  While not entirely ubiquitous, most shopkeepers incorporate astro turf in these displays.

Including sheets of artificial grass with fruit is tradition, I was told again and again.  It makes the fruit pop and helps craft a more natural display.  The green is eye-catching; it looks nice.  I was also told that 20 years ago, shopkeeping fashion dictated that fruit was displayed in bushel boxes.  These boxes made fruit look just carried from the fields, whereas the turf makes it look just picked. 

Although they couldn't bear a bushel, cardboard fruit boxes are often used on the grassy green surfaces to order the fruit and veg.  Another very popular strategy is the use of clear plastic mixing bowls.  Stacked and grouped with colours aligned in horizonal or vertical bands the containing fruit is often sold by the bowlful and at a discount.  "Any bowl, one pound!"  Sometimes more.

Display strategies are not merely aesthetic.  The bowls help sell fruit at a volume and create a logic for display.  Still, some vendors oppose the mixing bowls and understand that the fruit sold therein is bought from other vendors very near, or past, its expiration.  As such, some believe consumers may associate the fruit with poor quality.  I have had excellent bananas from bowls and from boxes; I reserve my judgement.  Though I must say, if you're planning guacamole, a mixing bowl of avocados may be the best bet. 

As well as softening the display and providing a contrasting colour to the fruit, astro turf also behaves like a soft curtain, hiding boxes, fruit, and crates below.

While it's easy to dismiss turf as "fake" grass, it has unexpectedly sensual qualities.  The ribbons of plastic are surprisingly soft to the touch and feel kind of, well, grassy.  It's hard not to touch them when perusing the produce.  The way the light and wind hit the sheets of turf, and "blades" of grass, also reveals wonderfully rich tones of green.  It can end up seeming quite luxurious. 

The astro turf also shows time and practice.  It wears along creases and in lines, exposing the black weave behind and eventually creating pin-striped skirts for display tables.

At a meeting of urban natures, juxtaposition shows that perhaps the turf is more CMYK pigment green than grass green.  The grass is always greener...?

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