Given the choice between quick, easy, fake experiences and ones where you’ve got to sweat a little, I pick the latter. Specifically, today we’re picking chile peppers on a farm just north of Albuquerque. The sun is warm, the light almost blinding; the ground is both soft and rough underfoot. The air is cool and breezy and smells green, steamy with vegetation. We have to kneel and reach to find pods between leaves. Some are already nibbled by mysterious creatures of the night. Some have gone pulpy and liquid from insects or other blights. It’s up to us to feel our way to the firm, glossy peppers that will fill our half-bushel basket and eventually our stomachs.
Sure, a morning of U-pick on a farm is a bit fake too. The experience was constructed for us to play at a little light agriculture as paying tourists. But still: the rich earth, the plants rooted in it, the dangling peppers—the knowledge that we’re harvesting real food and will later taste the fruits of our labor and be sustained by them—that’s still a thick vein of authenticity coursing with lifeblood from the ground into our bodies. I’ll take it.