Aarian Marshall is a transportation reporter at WIRED and former CityLab contributor. She lives in San Francisco.
Into the grinder with you, papaya!
“Welcome to America, give us everything delicious in your possession.”
It’s not quite the tagline of the the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but it may as well be.
Rules about what sorts of products you can and cannot bring into the country serve a very important point, of course. The agricultural pests and diseases sometimes hidden in foreign products are a risk to the country’s own formidable agricultural industry.
For an understanding of the peril, look no further than the 1981 invasion of the Mediterranean fruit fly, which was accidentally introduced to California and did an estimated $40 million in damage to the agricultural industry with its voracious and wide-ranging appetite.
Still, it hurts to have a delicious goodie taken away, and it will hurt even more when you learn where it goes. The video above, from the video network Great Big Story, shows the final journey of your favorite forbidden fruit, vegetable, nut, or meat as it travels from an airport’s contraband bin, through the terminal, and finally to the grinder, where it dies.
“Oh, the grinder is great,” U.S. Customs Supervisor Ellie Scaffa tells Great Big Story. “It’s just having fun, the water splashing in your face.”
If you would rather not have a government worker take pleasure in your food’s demise, check out the the agency’s website, which includes a detailed list of items that won’t make the cut.