I recently went peach picking with a friend. I ate a peach (or two) while we were in the field, and my friend waited until we paid to eat from her own basket. It was obvious that she disapproved of what I did, but then she went as far as to say, “I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I think you’re stealing from the farmers.” Who’s right?
Pick the Peach
I imagine that when you got to the “pick your own” site, there was a sign that said, “Do not pick while eating,” or “wait until you weigh,” or something along those lines. If there was such a sign, then, strictly speaking, your friend is right and you are wrong.
Perhaps there was no such sign, or maybe you didn’t see it. Maybe you viewed it as merely a suggestion and assumed that your one (or two) peaches didn’t really “count.” It’s possible that you generally think rules don’t apply to you or that your justifications are warranted. Or maybe you thought, “But everyone does it,” or, “The farm must account for this behavior in their pricing, since the price per pound to pick my own is far higher than I would pay in a store.” Maybe it was as simple as being hungry in a field of peaches and grabbing the juiciest one right at eye level.
Regardless of your reasoning, while you likely broke a rule, I don’t think you did anything truly deserving of your friend’s disapproval, especially since it sounds like you went on to make a purchase of the other peaches you’d picked. While I sort of want to make a stronger argument against what you did on pure ethical grounds, given that the practice is indeed so common, I’m finding it difficult to insist that what you did was really a problem.
In the future, maybe you’d consider whether you could snack on the partially damaged fruit that you (or anybody else) is unlikely to purchase and which would likely rot on the tree or the ground. Or maybe you eat something before you go so it’s not so tempting. Or maybe you eat your “extras” out of your friend’s line of vision.
Finally, my bigger concern here is actually your friend’s reaction. Was she mildly and amusedly surprised, or really and truly critical of what you did? Were you able to joke about it afterward, or do you feel like the rest of the afternoon was strained and uncomfortable? Do you feel like you want to revisit this with her or pretend it never happened and hope you can both move on?
Like so many things, her reaction may have been about something else, or something more, and it’s worth way more than the cost of the peach to figure out the implications for your friendship.