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I have the habit of taking an apple, orange, or other portable fruit from hotel breakfasts and tucking it into my bag to eat later in the day. I might do this each day of a 5-day conference, for example. All is fine until the day I head home in the evening and perhaps didn't eat the fruit that day. I have been known to forget about this until crossing customs on my way home. No harm done: I declare it, they take it, and they get rid of it safely. But what if I forget? What if I end up at my house with a French apple or a German orange or whatever? These are items Canada wants to exclude in order to be sure no foreign pests wreak havoc on our own ecosystem.

A second example. Recently, in China, I bought what I thought was candy (my translator asked the store person who said "sweet, tastes like fruit, you will like") but turned out to be dried fruit. Some had seeds in it. Eating that worked out well at the Great Wall, but what if I had brought it home and then discovered it was dried fruit that contained seeds?

My options at home for future hypothetical fruit-and-veg I should not have brought include (after eating the edible parts):

  • composting seeds, peel etc in my home compost heap
  • putting them in the garbage to go to my local landfill
  • burning them in an ordinary outdoor fire

Which is the safest way, to make sure that my forgetfulness doesn't threaten my local agriculture etc?

  • 3
    The safest option is undoubtfully to burn them, but you are overthinking this. The risk of an incidental fruit causing havoc to the ecosystem is neglicable. – RHA Nov 30 '17 at 7:55
  • I would definitely learn to be more diligent about declaring these foods, or disposing of them before importation. You can get into serious trouble (including fines, loss of trusted traveler privileges, and even short-term detainment) if you import inappropriate foods. Check before you clear customs, and declare everything you haven't disposed. (Countries like Canada and the US don't seem to mind you bringing almost any food, as long as you declare it, and surrender whatever you're asked.) – Jim MacKenzie Dec 8 '17 at 16:58
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    @JimMacKenzie I don't need to be more diligent. It says right in my question that I have in the past always found out at customs. Guess how? By being diligent. Also, no amount of diligence would have helped if I had brought all the Chinese "candy" home and only then discovered it was dried fruit with seeds in it. Do you suggest opening all candy packages? So I am asking about times when diligence fails, not suggesting I can't be bothered to do the right thing as long I as I know how to clean up afterwards. – Kate Gregory Dec 8 '17 at 17:24
  • @KateGregory I'm just saying that if you got them home, then either they're OK and you don't need to worry, or you brought them through illicitly (intentionally or otherwise) and then more diligence would have helped. – Jim MacKenzie Dec 8 '17 at 19:32
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    But that's nonsense, since once you open a sealed package and discover it's not candy, resolving to always open factory-sealed, printed packaging isn't in the slightest helping with the fruit you're holding. I am plenty diligent, making this a hypothetical question, but one that could easily happen. A moment's memory lapse at the end of a 24hr+ journey, when you forget that you slipped an apple into your bag this morning - or was that yesterday, or did you eat that, or was that yesterday, ...? Not everyone searches their own bags while waiting in the customs lines just in case. – Kate Gregory Dec 8 '17 at 19:38
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If you want to be sure, cook the "fruit and veg" that you don't eat and dispose of in the garbage. There is no need to build a fire in the backyard and burn it. Cooking is a normal practice. There is no need to do extraordinary things.

  • It's not normal to cook orange peels and seeds. And I have a backyard fire pretty regularly. – Kate Gregory Dec 8 '17 at 15:58
  • 1
    @Kate, it's perfectly normal to cook orange peel. That's how you make marmalade. – Peter Taylor Dec 8 '17 at 22:07

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