Some of us have never been desperately hungry. Not even during the Great Depression was I ever hungry. Bored perhaps because, during my childhood in New England, we had too many Wheaties for breakfast and too much salt cod on toast for supper.
Real hunger is what is happening to people in Somalia during another famine. Almost but not quite so bad is listening to a girlhood friend who had escaped from Germany during World War II and who told me that food was so scarce in her German city that the people ate the kangaroos in the zoo.
Reading recent political news in this country has forced me to think about food supplies and distribution, particularly about trade agreements and tariffs that could affect our own food supply and choices.
President Trump and his supporters oppose trade agreements and support high tariffs on imports coming into this country, such as cars, electronics, garments, toys, and assorted junk, but I have not heard yet whether he actually would want to cut off food imported from Mexico. I’m guessing he would if it would help pay for his wall.
Some of us who carefully read the fine print on food labels and stickers, know that we buy a lot of imported food products at the store. I even read the writing on crates of food at the store when I get a chance.
Many of the things I buy and depend on could never grow here or at least would not grow here from November until June. So, in winter, without those products, I would be complaining loudly not only about my dull menus but also about the negative impacts on my nutrition.
Try going without fresh vegetables or fruit for a few weeks. I remember a fellow who once wrote that he was the caretaker at a reservoir’s dam in the back country years ago and that he would have killed for a fresh vegetable by February. He meant that facetiously, I hope.
Here in the San Luis Valley in March, I have been enjoying grapes from Chile and strawberries from Baja at low prices. All winter I have had a fresh salad every day. Year around I have had bananas and coffee from Central America, tea from Asia, fish from all over the world, and especially the fresh veggies from Mexico.
Most of the food I buy is very good, with a little picking and choosing, although I have serious questions about the fish from certain places. I’ll be banning some of the fish from my table because of issues pertaining to quality, quantity, and conservation. (More on that some other time.)
Potatoes? We consumers know where our potatoes come from, and are we ever grateful for them. They are so affordable, have good nutrition, provide jobs and income in the San Luis Valley, and are available year around. What an asset! But potatoes three times a day? That sounds like too many beans.
I admire all the generous activities that prevent hunger here in the Valley and around the world. We can readily see firsthand the benefits made by our own residents, growers, grocery stores, nonprofit organizations, food banks, and other food programs; the local, national, and global distribution systems; and—yes—the programs provided by our federal and state governments to deter hunger, poor food choices, and health problems.
And I think that Trump’s trade and tariff ideas are way off base, particularly when they pertain to food.