Conservation Minnesota

Paying the Price for Shipped Goods

Recently we travelled to Mexico and a number of things happened to make me think about the production system within our global society. Before we left on our trip I contacted our friends Ivana and Ricardo who we were planning to visit to see if they needed anything from the United States that we could bring for them. They asked if we could bring some ink cartridges for their printer that they had purchased on a prior trip to the U.S. They had tried but were unable to find these cartridges anywhere in Mexico. We found the cartridges that they needed and as I was packing I chuckled when I noticed that they had been manufactured in Mexico. The cartridges are made there but you can’t buy them there. The manufacturer must ship them directly from the facility to the United States.

As we left the house for the trip I put on my Frye boots and noticed that those too had come from Mexico.

We spent the first weekend in Mexico City at our friend’s home and had wonderful organic meals there. Ivana and Ricardo had recently become vegan and we had many discussions about the food they purchased and ate. Ivana told me that she has a very difficult time finding organic produce in Mexico City. While it is limited she can usually find some organic produce there that is grown in the United States or in South America. She rarely sees organic produce that is grown in Mexico. That would make you think that they just don’t grow organic produce in Mexico, but, no that isn’t true. When Ivana and Ricardo travel to the United States they like to visit the Whole Foods Market where they can purchase all kinds of vegan items and organic produce. And, you know where much of that is grown? In Mexico. Apparently, they grow it in Mexico just for export since they can get better prices for it that way. But there is still a market for organic food for Mexicans so they import it from other places for themselves. I wonder if the Mexican grown produce passes the American grown produce while it is being transported to the other country? It certainly seems to me that there could be a more sustainable system in place. Ivana and Ricardo live in a high-rise condominium in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities on Earth, so they won’t be growing their own food anytime soon.

Seemingly, this system must be financially advantageous for someone. But, I wonder what the environmental costs are for all this shipping of food and other products? Who is paying for this? Unfortunately, I think the answer is clear. We are all paying the price, both financially and environmentally. I can’t imagine that any of us gain more from this than we lose. There must be a better way.

Kristin Eggerling is a board member for Conservation Minnesota Voter Center, the mother of two, and a freelance writer in northwestern Minnesota. 

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