January tomato harvest

The Center for Advanced Hindsight has a hydroponic vegetable garden. This has never been explained to me, other than the fact that our lab just tends to have strange things and, to be honest, it’s not necessarily out of place given our lab coats, hanging basket chairs, and the DVD collection of Nina Hartley’s Guide of instructional erotic videos that appeared one day on my desk.

When I joined the lab, I saw that the plants were overgrown, underfed, and hadn’t grown any flower buds, let alone vegetables. After some office space opened up and our desks were rearranged, I ended up at the desk closest to the tomatoes and peppers, and de facto put in charge of keeping them alive. From then on I spent 15 minutes here and there watering the plants, adding nutrients, and heavily pruning.

Earlier this week, the first cherry tomato—a yellow one—popped off the plant, and I tried it. We were all so excited that we filmed the occasion. (Watch it here!)

It was a fun little experience (and a decent tomato). Though it didn’t taste very special, given what we know about the IKEA effect, it almost definitely tasted better than it would have had I bought it from the store. Like I said in the video, “It tastes like gardening.”

~Vlad Chituc~

Read more about the IKEA effect:

Norton, Michael I., Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely. “The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love.” Journal of Consumer Psychology 22, no. 3 (July 2012): 453–460.