I was in Vancouver, BC during a short weekend visit to discover and explore the city. The sun usually sets around 4:30PM this time of year.
I wanted to walk in downtown and see much of the streets, the people and various attractions.
I tell you, the city looked vibrant and full of young people. There were lots of Asians as well. For a second I forgot I was in Canada (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I saw lots of young people sitting in corners or near closed shops crumbled in bed sheets along with their few belongings. A heart breaking scene I tell you.
On Sunday, I woke up early to see more of the city during day light. While walking in the street, I saw a fruit shop selling Avocados for $1.00 CAD a piece. They looked ripe and big, I thought they can serve as my breakfast for Monday and Tuesday. I bought two of them.
Long story short, the end of the day was approaching and I was bound to cross back the borders and head to Seattle, WA.
The border control agent told me that I need to have my car inspected by the agriculture agent.
Visitors are required to declare all food products and plants upon entry.
The United States maintains strict control over the importation of fresh and processed food products, particularly when it comes to meat, fruit and vegetables.
Meat and meat bi-products are generally prohibited from non-commercial importation.
Fruit and vegetables are carefully monitored to prohibit the introduction of agricultural pests and diseases. The U.S. maintains that the unmonitored importation of fruits and vegetables from other countries increases the risk of infestation by invasive species. Like Canada, the U.S. also restricts or limits imports based on its commercial industries, which include apple, peach, and other fruit in states like Washington and Oregon.
From time to time, agricultural alerts may also affect the importation of certain fruits or vegetables. It is best to declare ALL of your belongings at the border. The border official may ask you to describe the origin of certain items and will then decide whether they can be imported or whether they present a risk.
[Continued here: http://www.gonorthwest.com/Visitor/planning/border/food_us.htm]
After my car was inspected, they ceased the two avocados (that I brought from Canada), a pear and a mandarin (that I packed in Seattle,WA to eat as a healthy snack during the 5 hours round-trip).
I said to the agent: “So, you’re taking these fruits, can I at least get back my money’s worth?” Of course, I was not serious about my request but I wanted to incite some reasoning in the agent’s head.
Agent: “No. These fruits will be destroyed”, he then, politely, handed me a leaflet about the import/export regulations.
I just felt sad and frustrated. It is not because what I paid for was taken from me, but because I still vividly remember how many hungry and homeless people I just witnessed during my short trip and how that food could be given to them instead of being destroyed.
Moral of the story:
No avocados for you 😉
Jokes aside, the real moral of the story:
Make sure you read the rules and regulations about food, commercial items, fire arms and what not before you cross borders. Most importantly, never ever lie. Always be honest and declare what you have to the letter. Respect the rules.