Buy raspberries in January? Thank NAFTA.
Raspberries at the Price Chopper in Canton come from Mexico. ¡Gracias, NAFTA! Photo: David Sommerstein
NPR has a terrific series going on to start 2014 looking at the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement 20 years after it took effect. How the free trade pact affected labor, immigration, wages, the environment, and much more. All the stories are worth a read/listen.
Ted Robbins reports from Arizona on how the produce aisle's cornucopia today is largely a product of NAFTA and the accessibility of Mexican produce:
There are several reasons why, explains Jaime Chamberlain, president of J-C Distributing Inc., a large produce importer and distributorship in Nogales, Ariz.
First, NAFTA eliminated tariffs. Cantaloupes, for instance, used to have a 35 percent tax on them when they crossed the border. No tariffs meant lower prices.
Second, NAFTA encouraged investment. So companies like Chamberlain's have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Mexican farms. That has helped create year-round supply and demand for U.S. and Canadian customers.
"Twenty years ago, in tomato items alone, you did not have 365-day distribution from Mexico to the United States," he says. "And now … every single day of the year, you will find Mexican tomatoes in the U.S. market."
You like peppers after the snow flies? Thank NAFTA, too! Photo: David Sommerstein.
My question for you is this: do you buy fresh strawberries and green beans in January? (I just bought both yesterday.) Or do you stick to dry and frozen fruits and veggies until spring rolls around? How committed are you to "eating local" when there's nothing growing out there for months?
Tags: agriculture, farming, food, free trade, global, immigration, nafta