A kind reader named Doug pointed me to a story about the state treasurer of Massachusetts, who says his family was detained for an hour at Logan recently because his teenaged daughter had three unauthorized and undeclared peaches in her luggage.
Also, he was fined $300 and threatened with jail. (No, not Doug. The state treasurer. There is no penalty for sending stories to travel bloggers. Yet.)
I’m no mathematician, but I believe that comes out to $100 a peach. A little steep, no?
Here’s what I’m wondering: what’s the fine per grape? Or cherry? A fruit smuggler could get seriously bankrupt with penalties like that.
I’m not scoffing at the agricultural laws of the land. I know it’s important to control the importation of produce to prevent plant diseases, fruit addiction, toucan infestations and other, nameless perils.
And I have no sympathy for peach smugglers because, frankly, the furry skin totally creeps me out. (Who can bite those things? Ewww.) But I might possibly have maybe overlooked a raspberry or two that got into my luggage somehow, once or possibly twice. And I recall being sternly questioned at the Canadian border over some stress-ball squeeze toys in my luggage that looked, on X-ray examination, alarmingly like apples.
But when a teenaged girl brings peaches aboard a nine-hour flight from Italy and then forgets or neglects to eat or declare them, a little perspective might be in order.
If there’s more to the story, perhaps the US Customs and Border Protection agency would like to share it with us? The Boston Globe tried but couldn’t turn up anybody to comment …