Even though they’ve long-since disappeared from local farmer’s markets, tomatoes still blossom on supermarket shelves alongside other unseasonably fresh produce. Most of your winter vegetables pass through the town of Nogales, Ariz., a border town that processes between 60 to 70 percent of all winter produce shipped to the United States.
The warehouses and trucks near the border crossing are loaded down with fresh fruits and vegetables, and this is the busy season, according to Slate’s Eric Holthaus. Nogales processes tons of produce each day, and soon, with the completion of a new border crossing, will be able to process nearly three trucks a second, speeding up the influx of goods into the United States.
When we followed up by phone the following week, Badillo explained that this year, the trucks are especially backed up because of the winter weather on the U.S. East Coast—the biggest market for fresh Mexican produce. With ice-covered interstates hampering travel, deliveries have been tricky or even impossible. Supermarkets haven’t been able to sell as much, either, with families sticking home, opting for canned goods instead.
As a result, warehouses here at the border are overrun with tomatoes at the moment. But that bottleneck should be temporary, since drought-stricken California fields won’t be able to produce as much as normal.
The drought in California, and the longer growing season in Mexico means that in the future, even more fresh vegetables might be flowing through the city. Nogales is more infamous for the other trade that runs underneath the town: drugs. Over 100 drug tunnels funneling contraband have been found in Nogales alone since 1990, with the largest one found just last month.