Heartbreak at the Airport

We’ve all experienced it: the heartbreak of customs. Maybe we’re flying back from France with a suitcase full of cheese or returning from India with a case of real mangoes when—bang—the customs officers descend to take our bounty away. Heck, even bringing fruit in a car over the border into California can spell confiscation. Of course, nobody loves a nonnative species, but that doesn’t make the Boston Globe’s piece on contraband foodstuffs at Logan Airport any less moving. Goat meat is unearthed from beneath fish (legal to carry into the U.S.). Yams are tussled over. Guavas are taken from their rightful owners.

Suitcases on Alitalia flights, which originate in Italy, are considered high risk for the agriculture specialists. Suitcases are often filled with homemade sausages. Officers also watch passengers on SATA airline flights out of Portugal and on planes from El Salvador, because luggage from those countries might contain live crabs.

What happens to the meat, fruit, homemade treats, and vegetables confiscated by customs officers? Don’t tell the guys at the excellent Wasted Food blog, but nearly 300 pounds a week is tossed in an industrial garbage disposal or burned.

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