These are more than a few reasons to take issue with that marvel of urban living: the farmers market. There's the never-ending stampede of double-wide strollers and asthmatic lap dogs, the super-savers whose mouths froth and elbows jab at the first sight of a reasonably priced carambola, and the overall-clad hobby growers, who might just refuse your hard-earned dollars if they think you have, at any point in your life, imbibed a diet soda. That's not to mention the ungodly hours of operation, the forced social interaction, and having to wait a whole week for your produce fix.
But you may never have to subject yourself to such indignities again, thanks to a pair of ever-industrious Aussies and their crowdsourced app for local produce.
Husband and wife Alistair and Helena Martin of Adelaide, Australia, were getting pretty damn fed up with the rising cost of groceries and a supermarket filled with under-ripe blueberries from another hemisphere. That's when Alistair noticed how the majority of the fruit growing on his neighbor's citrus tree —fruit that the Martins' regularly paid good money for—was wholly unused and left to rot. In his words, "For years we have witnessed something very odd; magnificent fruit trees (orange, mulberry, pomegranate, lemon - you name it) overflowing with fruit that is left to the birds or to rot on the ground."
So, unlike the rest of us who notice annoying stuff and just whine, the Martins got busy. "We figured there must be a way to connect people to the fruit trees and produce that grows around them," Martin told Paste Magazine.
The Martins created RipeNearMe, an app that "maps edible plants growing on public land and food grown by ordinary citizens." On their app, which is now available in a Beta version, you can find, share, swap, buy, or sell stuff that grows near you.
RipeNearMe is being called the Tinder of foraging food apps, as it allows you to plug in your location and hook up with some pretty sexy mulberries or edible weeds that may reside near you. Just as dating in today's world is, well, complicated, so is matching local foodstuff with those who would be happy to devour it. In the words of the developers, they would like to see a world where "you get to pick fruit and veg off the plant—not a shelf! And where your fresh food comes from a micro-farm, window garden, or fruit tree in your neighbour's backyards."
On RipeNearMe, you plug in your location and the app takes you to a map. There, you will see red and green symbols that indicate the presence of fruit or vegetables that are "still growing" or "ripe" for the picking. The app also tells you whether the produce is free or not.
The Martins see their app as a way to promote local food in our hyper-processed, globally muddled food system, "At the moment there [are] Californian peaches on supermarket shelves here [in Adelaide]," Martin decried. The mission of his app is to promote ultra-local eating: "We want to see homegrown and people-powered food become a viable part of the modern food system."
So if going to your local farmers market is stressing you out—or if you'd like to shop for fruit the way you find a date: on your phone, in the comfort of your own lair—then RipeForMe may provide you with some low-hanging fruit, right in your own neighborhood.