Imports have increased steadily for decades, but the extent of the change may be surprising: More than half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of the fresh vegetables Americans buy now come from other countries.
Although local, seasonal and farm-to-table are watchwords for many consumers, globalization has triumphed in the produce aisle. And despite the protectionist “America First” message coming from the Trump administration, the growth in imports appears likely to continue.
So this is an apt moment to examine how the shift happened, and what it portends — good or ill — for American consumers and farmers.
“I had no idea that more than half our fruit is imported, and it shocks me that this has happened so quickly,” said Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, whose best-selling books have analyzed the tensions between local and global food systems.
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