A famine occurred and the second son ran out of money so that he had to work for a foreigner feeding pigs, something detestable to a Jew. Perhaps the far country was east of the Sea of Galilee where Gentiles tended pigs (cf.8:26-37). In his hunger he longed for the pods—the food he fed the pigs. As a Jew, he could have stooped no lower. The pods were probably carob pods, from tall evergreen carob trees.
In this low condition, he came to his senses (15:17). He decided to go back to his father and work for him. Surely he would be better off to work for his father than for a foreigner. He fully expected to be hired by his father as a servant, not to be taken back as his son.
Martin, John A. “Luke.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. 245. Print.