(LATIMES) — On a weekday shopping trip to the only real grocery store for 30 miles, Ann Neagle paused before a bag of Red Delicious apples, $7 for a dozen, plus a new discount — the Navajo Nation lifted the 5% sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables.
That's the carrot in the tribe's attempt to curb rampant obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Next comes the stick: A 2% tax on junk food.
That tax, the first of its kind nationwide, will hit one of the most economically depressed areas in the country, where more than 40% of people are unemployed. Neagle is worried.
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"Less money for fruits is nice, but it doesn't even out," she said. "For people on a fixed income, we can't afford things to get more expensive."