Tag Archives: solar panels

Solar Panels and Cherries–The Market

solarHigh school economics was not my forté. Only one concept stuck: supply and demand. But recently, I’ve had market shifts on the brain. This September, the press has emblazoned talk of solar panels everywhere, from Nat Geo to the good old stand by NYTimes. Apparently China, noting a future demand, has jumped on it, creating more factories to produce the panels and polysilicion, the substance needed to make them. The US has done nothing of the sort. Prices have gone down, as happens with most things made in China. (that’s a whole other conversation)

Imagine the moment one human hands-on witnesses the amorphous market beast suddenly shift.

Has this happened to you?  Here is my story:

Central Otago, New Zealand 2005

With the afternoon light softening, I place a clump of cherries into my 18th bucket of the day. I have been picking cherries on this orchard for two months now. My workmates are men from China, Malaysia, India and New Zealand–we’ve gotten mean at each other and all adoring. Like siblings. So it goes in the field. Most of these big juicy purple cherries, called Lapins, will be sold to Japan and some to North America, or at least that’s what our gang-boss Nigel says. As we sweat and move quickly (getting paid for how much pick), I keep wondering: How long does it take these cherries to get to the mouths of consumers? Who loads them on an airplane, a truck, the grocery store palette? What if those consumers knew that Bob, Remy, Hydah, Nigel, John and Molly had hand-picked these cherries in a small town on an island in the southern hemisphere? Do they think about it?

Perched on my ladder, I look over the leafy canopy towards… Continue reading


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