Woman talking(l+r), Hand squeezing lemon(c)

MPH Photos/Shutterstock @goodluckkarly/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Don’t you have to do something to them?’: Viewers mock woman who has been buying lemons—while having a lemon tree in her yard

'When life gives you lemons, buy them at the store. I think that’s the saying.'


Maya Wray


Posted on Feb 14, 2024   Updated on Feb 14, 2024, 12:05 pm CST

A TikToker’s recent confession that she purchases grocery store lemons despite having a lemon tree in the yard of her apartment provoked intense viral conversations about capitalism, food prices, and production.

In a video that has been viewed 9.3 million times since it was first posted on Feb. 9, Karly Cronin (@goodluckkarly) said a visiting friend wondered why she had a bag of store-bought lemons in her refrigerator when she had a lemon tree right outside. Confused, she responded that she often cooked with lemons and added them to her sparkling water. 

Cooking with lemons wasn’t the issue her friend had, however. 

“She said, ‘You have a lemon tree. You just pick the lemons off the tree, and you put them in your food or in your sparkling water,’” Cronin narrated in her TikTok. “And I said, ‘Don’t you have to do something to them?’”

Viewers were quick to comment that, aside from maybe washing them in the sink before use, nothing needed to be done to the picked lemons.

“Maybe I am one of the very few people that didn’t know that there is nothing that you have to do to a lemon before you eat it from a tree,” Cronin wondered aloud in her video. 

“I’m 28, for reference. Am I the only person? Say no,” she added before ending the TikTok. 

“You’re probably not the only one but it is a worrying symptom of our removal from the process of agriculture,” one viewer responded. 

Cronin revealed in a comment that she wasn’t responsible for planting the tree in her apartment yard, leading some viewers to caution her against using the outdoor lemons. They cited the potential for a city or state law that may bar her from picking fruit from a tree she didn’t own. 

“In some places the fruit belongs to the owner of the tree, even if it’s hanging over your land,” @fscharnhorst warned. “It really depends on each city’s laws.” 

“If it’s in your apartment area then it’s probably for the apartment community!” user @poptarttoes speculated. “If it’s in someone else’s yard always ask first, and if it’s in your own personal yard then it’s all yours girly.”


i already know putting this on the internet is going to be a mistake

♬ original sound – karly 🦋

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Cronin said she discovered avocado and orange trees on her property and planned to start picking fruit from them.

“I’ve read a lot in the past few days [and] joined so many conversations about why so many people do hesitate to eat straight from trees and bushes, which is a larger number than you’d think!” Cronin told the Dot.

Many viewers declared that Cronin’s TikTok was evidence of the public’s disregard for how their food is produced. 

“I teach an environmental class about how capitalism has separated everyday people from the world that sustains them,” a teacher shared.

“America did such a good job getting rid of free food,” another viewer lamented.

Cronin told the Dot that she signed herself up for volunteer events at gardens around Southern California to “expand her knowledge.”

“This world is full of infinite information and as long as I am still learning, I am still growing,” Cronin acknowledged. “The fact that this video was able to spark the conversations it has around foraging, food production and agriculture has led me to believe more people should be willing to share their discoveries so we can all take the opportunity to learn from each other.”

Lemon trees are easy to grow in climates with mild winter seasons, according to writer and gardener Lynn Coulter. They can thrive in pots and the ground, with the popular Meyer lemon tree bearing fruit every year or couple of years. 

In a follow-up video, Cronin addressed a comment asking her if she had ever had a garden or visited an apple orchard, thanking those who had “taken time to teach me things from all over the world about their gardens.” 

“I learned something, and I’m grateful for that,” she stated in the video, which has been viewed over 139,600 times since it was first posted on Feb. 11. “I will be picking more fruit from trees and bushes.”

@goodluckkarly Replying to @Beth English Baxter &lt3 have a great day #lemontreegirl ♬ original sound – karly 🦋

“I think your misunderstanding says less about you as a person than it does about how far removed from the production of food a lot of people are,” user @kindragresham observed.

Viewers flooded her video’s comment section with humorous stories of their own misconceptions about food. “I legit thought peanuts grew on trees until I was like 30, pineapples also,” @thems.scearce shared. 

“If it makes you feel better I didn’t know that onion rings had onion in them,” another viewer sympathized.

“It’s the internet,” Cronin told the Dot regarding viewers who had mocked her original video. “People are always going to find a way to put you down or make you feel dumb.”

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2024, 10:00 am CST