Let’s talk about Mexican produce

mexico1

Yesterday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that one of the options being considered to pay for the border wall is a 20% tax on Mexican imported goods. Later various White House people scaled back on that saying it would be more like 5% or emphasizing “it’s just one of the options” .

I don’t think this option will be popular with Congress and it won’t be an option they’ll go with but it’s worth talking about anyway.

Americans, especially those who support Trump, should be offended by this proposal. This administration is essentially asking Americans to pay for the wall not once but twice. Taxpayer money pays for the building of the wall. Those funds are “reimbursed” through this tax, paid for by American consumers. Either Trump is truly an idiot or he believes Americans are idiots. He’s counting on his sales schmooze to put this through.

People responded on social media to this proposal by freaking about about their avocados and tequila. The impact would be so much bigger than avocados and tequila. Mexico is the biggest importer of fresh produce to the U.S. Tomatoes,melons,lettuce,peppers,pineapple,coconut, sugar,cukes,grapes, COCOA. 70% of vegetables and 40% of fruit imports come from Mexico.  This tax obviously will increase the cost of produce at a time when accessibility to produce for low income people, especially in food deserts, is already a crucial issue in food justice.

And let’s not forget Mexican Coke.

With Trump’s new immigration policies and wall building, we will already see the price of produce increase anyway, 20% tax or not. The workers who grow our food domestically are from Mexico and other countries, usually paid less than American workers. The price of food will reflect the loss of underpaid labor .( As always, I advocate for migrant food workers to be paid fairly and our food system is reliant on these workers. I’m just stating that the system as it is currently will bring this about).

The hypothetical boycotts that could take place could be interesting. If those who don’t want the wall and buycott Mexican produce, they’ll have to be satisfied with limited produce options in winter or grow and preserve their own food. Or actively participate in the growth of these industries domestically. I already have seen some on the conservative side want to buycott Mexican goods anyway just on the premise alone that “Mexico is bad” per Trump’s commentary.  Both ways, the Mexican economy suffers and that wall isn’t getting paid for by anyone but American taxpayers.


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Revisiting the affordability of “Grow your own food!” ….

[previously on this topic : “Why “Grow your own food!” might not be so easy for poor people” ,Part 1 & Part 2 . Also: The Privilege of Real Food ]

 

My friend Amanda was nice enough to share this photo of her sweet new backyard mini-homestead .

Here’s what Amanda had to say about this:

So. Telling poor people to grow their own food. Nine chickens $55, coop $255, gardening soil which I mixed with 50% Florida dirt aka sand $15 on sale at Lowe’s. Three large bins (I had the others and I know people think I shouldn’t use plastic) 2 bell pepper plants, 2 zucchini, 2 cuke, 2 cantaloupe, 2 basil, 1 each oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill $91 all from walmart. I’ve got $150 in feeding/caring for the chickens so far as I had to buy feeders/waterers. I’ve ordered fancy ones now, but that cost is only the basic plastic ones I started with. The kind you refill by hand every day from tractor supply. I can’t expect eggs til June/July. I had on hand: a drill (tub drainage holes), shovel, truck to move things, easy outdoor water access, garden hose and space. Unless someone has easy access to basically all that stuff for free, there’s no way even feeding the chickens seems worth it if we are looking it at this like the “food stamp police” do. I’m in love with my little side yard, but as I’ve been working on it I’ve been very aware that there is NO WAY IN HELL I could have done this when we were on SNAP. Also, that low fence is needed to keep the dogs from stressing out the chickens and peeing on my plants. It was the cheapest option that would work for my big dog and was $85. That total space is roughly 17′ square.

I forgot the $80 in concrete from the trench I dug and filled with quickcrete to hopefully avoid that) or some virus or the plants die…. I mean, it’s in no way a sure thing (as y’all know)

 

I am so frustrated that I have to have this same conversation over and over again about poor people and gardening. It blows my mind when someone shares their story of food insecurity right now,real time ,”There is no food in my house”-stories and the best words someone can offer is, “You should start a garden.”

Right. Because when you literally have NO money to buy food, you can go buy seeds/plants, gardening tools,dirt,etc etc etc. And then when do you get to eat? I mean…if you even have a place to grow stuff. “But you can buy seeds and plants with food stamps!” Uh,yeah….you can but when you’re trying to budget $1.25 per meal because that’s all the food stamps you have for a month, you’re not going to add seeds to your budget.

I’ve had this conversation enough (at least once a week for the past 2 years, I swear) to know that the counter-argument is that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Well, right. It can be inexpensive but that’s usually if you’re been doing it for awhile and have accessibility to some things that make it easier.

I just like to reiterate all this because it’s important for people to acknowledge this is not a solution to hunger for everyone. If you’re a fan of growing it yourself, think outside your own box before telling a poor person to grow their own food. Maybe ask some starter questions. “Is it possible for you to garden?” If no, don’t be pushy. That person knows the reasons they can’t garden. All of your suggestions is not going to make their situation any different. It’s just going to make them feel like crap.

I mean,dude…that one time I wrote about having no food and weighing 85 pounds? Someone actually said : “If only you had a garden.” When I said I wasn’t able to then, they told me, “If you’re hungry enough,you’ll make it happen.” For real.
I lived in a basement apartment underneath a liquor store with a parking lot as my “yard”. If only I had the magic of the fairies or whatever those things were in Fern Gully!  But honestly, it’s an incredibly insulting thing to suggest that maybe I wasn’t hungry enough or maybe I should have tried harder and I just wouldn’t have been hungry.

Now, if someone says “yes” to the “Can you garden?” question… ask them what they need. Do they need seeds? Do they need book recommendations? Do they need advice?  Do they need money for gardening tools? Are they close enough that you can lend them tools or supplies or even some actual physical help?

If they can ,support and encourage that. If they can’t leave them the hell alone and start looking around your own community to see what can be done to foster a better local food system for poor,disabled, and elderly people living there.