Low-hanging fruit?

中国日报网 2013-11-19 12:12



Low-hanging fruit?

Reader question:

Please explain “low-hanging this headline: “U.S. economy has run out of ‘low-hanging fruit’: Economist”.

My comments:

This is an economist being quoted as saying that the US economy has run out of easy solutions. In other words, there are no more quick fixes.

At any rate, that’s what the economist means by “low-hanging fruit”.

Low-hanging fruit, you see, refer to apples, pears, oranges or any other such fruit that hang on the lowest branches of the trees. The low-hanging fruit are, needless to say, the easiest and pick. Some of them are probably within reach, i.e. you can reach out your hand and take them without having to stand on tiptoe to do it or having to jump up.

Or to use a step ladder.

Nor do you have to climb up the tree, let alone going out on a limb.

Going out on a limb?

Yeah, that’s another American idiom descriptive of the situation where one has to clime high up a far reaching branch (limb) in order to grab the fruit.

The far out branch may be thin and, as a result, dangerous – one risks falling off the tree in consequence.

Hence and therefore it is no accident that whether in apple gathering or problem solving, people go after the low-hanging fruit first.

In other words, they aim for the easiest targets, getting the easiest jobs done before taking on tougher tasks.

In our headline example, the US economy is said to have run out of the so-called “low-hanging fruit”. That means there’s nothing left that’s easy for the government to do now policy-wise in order to revive the economy. Everything easy they need to try, they’ve done before.

I’m not suggesting the Obama Administration will do nothing now – which is probably a good thing for a lot of people. They will find something to do. In fact, they’ll find a lot to do. They feel it is their job to meddle.

Anyways, nothing they do now is going to do much help because, according to the economist being quoted, the easy solutions have simply been exhausted.

Apparently, according to our economist, for the economy to revive and prosper, the United States needs something drastic, like, a huge tax reduction or a major invention or innovation, such as the advent of Windows 95 or Henry Ford making cars cheap enough for the masses to buy.

Or something like that – in so far, that is, as interpreting “low-hanging fruit” is concerned.

Alright, let’s read a few more media examples to get a firm grip of the phrase:

1. Press Releases are the low-hanging fruit of advertising because they often garner free advertising from news papers, radio & TV.

Media needs content. Business announcements, human interest stories, community activism, events, etc., are the kinds of topics news reporters, producers and directors need in order to keep their products interesting to the public. Therefore, they depend, no they are dying for fresh, relevant and interesting content. If you’re wanting to get the word out about your product or service there may not be a more efficient and cost effective method than a well written, properly placed and appropriately timed press release, business announcement or media alert. Here are the basics:

A press release should only be 1-2 pages max. It should always answer the 5 W’s - who, what, when, where and why. It should include a quote or two and the exact contact info for the public and reporter that many want to conduct a follow up interview.

Next, you must have a very good media list. These days, email press releases are preferred over fax press releases because the content can be copied and pasted rather then retyped. Your list need to be updated regularly to make sure you’re not getting a lot of bounce backs.

Lastly, you should use the content created for your press release in as many web-based resources as possible such as your blog, website news, Facebook page, etc.

- Press Releases are the Low-Hanging Fruit of Free Advertising, March 4, 2012, NavigationAdvertising.com.

2. GETTING the fruit from branches closer to the ground is the easy option in sales, business, politics and writing.

Low-hanging fruit is popular in the commercial world, where it is used to identify the quickest business to acquire. The harder climb to the top of the tree of life takes longer. The phrase has crossed into journalism via the business pages, where it appears up to 400 times a month across the world.

With the low-hanging fruit gone, the gains to productivity from the likes of the internet are relatively smaller,” (Wall Street Journal, July 25).

“This year, the incumbent is again the favourite, but such low-hanging fruit may not seem so easy to find,” (Barron’s, July 9).

“Billions and billions of dollars of low-hanging fruit are listed in these reports,” (The Telegraph, Nashua, USA, July 8).

There is plenty of low-hanging fruit that even minimally competent governance should have been able to deliver,” (Dhaka Courier, July 7).

“But that also means finding a way to pay for it and a bloated public sector is the low-hanging fruit,” (The Advertiser, South Australia, July 7).

Misspelled street signs are the low-hanging fruit of feature journalism,” (New York Times, July 6).

- Low-hanging fruit, The Australian, July 30, 2012.

3. If you want to improve the treatment of millions of animals in our food supply chain, chickens are the low hanging fruit. With 99 percent of the 291 million egg-laying chickens in the U.S. living in cramped cages, there is a lot of room for progress in the industry.

Improved laws banning chicken cages is one way to tackle the issue. But for Josh Tetrick, CEO and Founder of Hampton Creek Foods, “obliterating” the caged-egg industry is another.

“We don’t want to take a percentage of the caged-chicken market,” says Tetrick. “We want to end the practice altogether, by making to make our product more affordable and better than eggs.”

Tetrick’s product is, essentially, fake eggs. The company looked at the 22 different ways eggs are used in cooking (ie – emulsification, aeration, binding) and found several ways plants could fill in for the 79 billion eggs laid each year. They came up with a range of substitutes to suit varying needs, like for use in baking and as a condiment for sandwiches.

The results are pretty remarkable. In a side by side taste test with a real live chocolate chip cookie made with egg, I could not tell which was made with a Hampton Creek “egg.” The mayo too, is smooth and thick, without the odd aftertaste of other fake mayonnaises I’ve had. In other words, the plant-based eggs functioned just as they should, by not revealing they were actually not eggs.

Yet Tetrick’s “eggs” may be a hard sell for those shopping the aisles of Whole Foods, where his Mayo will be sold nationally in November. While tiny, often dirty cages may not be what consumers envision when they crack their morning egg, they are also not envisioning scientists in white coats engineering their condiments. “Hampton Creek” may sound farmy, but in reality, the product is created in a lab far from any field.

- End Of The Egg? ‘Fake Egg’ Company Aims To Replace 79 Billion Chicken Eggs Laid Each Year, October 22, 2013, Forbes.com.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)



















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