Yeah, $40 is not quite in the spirit of foraging. I was standing in the store, admiring the light weight, good balance, the electricity-proof fiberglass handle, and said… naaah. It’s just not in the spirit of the thing.
Re: codes. I am uncomfortable picking on what is clearly private property without asking permission - like someone’s house. I believe the law is a little more complicated, because fruit over public land ( like the street and sidewalk ) are public. In Menlo Park, the public land is defined as a certain distance from the center of the street, and that distance goes farther than most people know and allow for. What seems the property line ( like the edge of the sidewalk ) is often not the actual boundary.
If it’s a house, and not clearly overhanging the sidewalk, ask permission. Or just always ask permission in residential areas. There is a moral grey area for me - when the fruit is slightly overripe, and clearly hasn’t been picked; or when the property is so large that they clearly can’t track every tree and it’s hard to figure out who to ask; but the law doesn’t draw that distinction.
I feel comfortable foraging at Stanford, on corporate campuses ( I wish more companies planted fruit trees - few do ), and public land ( pocket parks and similar ).
I sent out a note on a local “newsgroup” asking if people had persimmons they needed picked, and got a few positive replies. If you’re a local, you’ll find Yahoo Groups, maybe even Craigslist, and some other websites are places you can ask permission.
When I ask permission, I always offer to pick and split. I’ll pick a few off your tree, and I’ll leave half for the owner.