Why It Might Get Even More Expensive to Get Healthy Food on Your Table


Peyri Herrera/Flickr
From health care to the environment, there doesn't seem to be anything left untouched by Donald Trump during his first week as president. And now (aside from dismantling policy issues moms care about greatly), he might even make it harder for kids to eat right. In an effort to fund his proposed border wall with Mexico, Trump is reportedly considering a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports to the US. In Trump's mind, this measure would "get Mexico to pay for the wall" -- except we'll really be the ones paying, in the form of jacked-up prices on fruits and vegetables, among other items. (Did we mention Mexico just happens to be the biggest exporter of fresh produce to the US?)

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According to past reports from the USDA, we get nearly 70 percent of our vegetables and 40 percent of our fruit from Mexico. Higher import taxes, of course, translate to higher costs at the grocery store -- and not only on Mexican produce, either, as this increase would mean domestic producers wouldn't have to lower their prices to compete. 

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So which items can you expect to be crossing off your shopping list sometime in the possibly near future? Bad news for guac lovers: 93 percent of Hass avocados sold in the US come from Mexico, as do 71 percent of tomatoes. (Consider the vast number of dishes that count tomatoes as an ingredient and let that sink in for a minute.)

It's not just fruit and vegetables that could be getting more expensive, either -- 15 percent of all sugar used in the US comes from Mexico. And if you're feeling like you could use a drink after reading all of this, better stock up now: We imported more than $1.3 billion in beer from Mexico last year; we also import about 79 percent of Mexico's total annual exports of tequila.

How is Trump justifying a tax that would make the simple act of eating healthy such a hardship for so many American families? According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the 20 percent tax would raise $10 billion a year and "would easily pay for a border wall that is estimated to cost between $8 billion and $20 billion." (In a move that was surprising to no one with a functioning human brain, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto reiterated this week that no, his country would not in fact pay billions of dollars for a wall they do not actually want.) 

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Spicer later backpedaled slightly on his earlier statement, saying that the 20 percent tax was not an "official" policy and that he was just illustrating how it could be paid for, but that hardly makes the policy any less alarming. It is not, however, surprising -- and not just because Trump's favorite snacks are said to be potato chips and Doritos. This is just one more way that our president is proving he doesn't care about actual people. This is just one more thing that's going to make it more difficult for children and families to thrive.

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