Most of America’s Fruit Is Now Imported. Is That a Bad Thing?

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imported fruit

Did you know that over half of the fresh fruit we eat comes from other countries?

What to think? Is this food safe? Is this food as healthy as domestic produce? Is this food good for the planet?

We know that Americans need to eat more produce. Love it or hate it, imported produce means folks can get produce year-round and popular tropical fruit is less expensively grown internationally. In short, imports have increased fruit consumption, which is a very very good thing.

Fruit from far away does have drawbacks. Odds are that mango you grabbed in the store was picked unripe or selected for its durability. This does not mean the produce is less nutritious, but it doesn’t taste as good as domestic in season produce. That’s for sure.

Other worries, such as the environmental impact of travel and agriculture practices, health questions about food safety and pesticides, and ethical questions around farm worker abuse are very real. And let us not forget that increased global trade has benefited larger scale industrial farms and left smaller, local farmers behind.

Last February, the USDA released a report predicting that fresh produce imports will rise 45 percent from “2016 to 2027, implying that a decade from now, three-quarters of our fruits and almost half of our vegetables will be imported.”

While this doesn’t demand an extreme 180 or a refusal to buy imported produce, it does call for closer consideration of what we buy and from where and when – buying local, in season, and organic when you can. This is no easy task. At Field Goods, we have to search very hard for domestically grown citrus and tropical fruit. We are keeping our fingers crossed that consumer demand will help our small domestic farmers invest in expanding their production.

 

Picture/GIF by Jens Mortensen for The New York Times and styled by Mariana Vera

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