Fruits of Trade

by Peter Spiro

Thanks to a recent bilateral arrangement, you can now enjoy Indian mangos in the United States. To hear Indians talk about this, the issue is more important than nukes or Kashmir. The first shipments arrived this week in New York. Fruit flies had been the problem; irradiation the answer, a good enough one for USDA. (The US, meanwhile, is trying to pry its way into the Indian liquor market.)

Foodies are clear beneficiaries of globalization and trade regimes. Recent arrivals to the US include Iberico ham and genuine Italian mortadella (the import ban on which supplied a premise to this movie starring Sophia Loren). Absinthe is on the way, and raw-milk cheeses can’t be far behind.

On the other hand: today it’s pet food, tomorrow it’ll be people food. That is, as more pedestrian items increasingly come from other, less consumer-safety oriented countries, there will no doubt be an increasing number of horror stories from the transnational produce section. We’re all used to berries from Chile; in my local store, it’s now garlic (organic, or so it says) from China. That may mean cheaper grocery bills, but it probably also spells a transition period in which food-safety regimes have to catch up to the new scope of trade.

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