The Long Journeys of Produce

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Screen shot of foodandwaterwatch.org


That busy organization, Food and Water Watch, has produced a virtual shopping cart that lets you see where food comes from.  Click on frozen cauliflower and learn that 75% of it is imported, mainly from Mexico. The details come from the group's report, The Poisoned Fruit of American Trade Policy. Here's what they show when you click on pears, for example, and below that a quote from the report.

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Screen shot of foodandwaterwatch.org


Imports of fresh fruits (except bananas), fresh vegetables and processed produce essentially tripled, rising from 10 billion pounds in 1990 to 30 billion pounds in 2007.

Imported produce was more than three times more likely to contain the illness-causing bacteria Salmonella and Shigella than domestic produce, according to the latest FDA survey of imported and domestic produce.

Imported fruit is four times more likely to have illegal levels of pesticides and imported vegetables are twice as likely to have illegal levels of pesticide residues as domestic fruits and vegetables.

The hidden dangers on imported fruits and vegetables can enter U.S. supermarkets because the FDA inspects only the tiniest fraction of imported produce.

While you are on the site, you can play another game: find the factory farms in your state. And take a look at its other materials. The site is complicated but one easy way to navigate it is to click on the numbers under the main banner on the home page. This leads you to pages that list reports and other useful materials. This group is well worth knowing about if you are looking for facts about these issues.

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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