It all started when our television provider, one that requires an appalling satellite thingey be installed outdoors to get reception, now moved out of the direct line of vision from the lazyboy in the addition thankfully, had some kind of argument with one of the big three networks. We had to switch our nightly news watching of local, then national to another station, from that one with the peacock to the alphabet one. The national news on the new station was promoting something for Christmas that seemed like such a good idea, we wondered why it had not been brought to the forefront sooner. It was to buy gifts made in the US, at least one, or more or all. They helped us accomplish this by showcasing products that are manufactured here in America. The slogan was “Are you in?”.
We were, and are in. Big time. It has been going on for some time with the food we eat. Either growing our own or buying from the local farmer’s market. But during the winter, our local markets are closed and the grocery is the only place to buy fresh produce.
Where all of those lovely fruits and vegetables on offer nearly year around are grown is an issue for me, a big one. The grocers are required to display where these healthy foods come from. I have begun reading the labels carefully. Asparagus is a good example. At the store, the label said USA grown, but the rubber band holding the spears said Peru. I asked the stocker about that and he simply removed the USA label, no problem. Sorry ma’am. It is very close to asparagus season in California, I know because we used to live there. Asparagus was always a treat we indulged in for our wedding anniversary meal in mid-January. Where is the USA grown asparagus now? That is what I asked the manager in the produce section, on my next trip to the grocery. He didn’t know, said the head office makes those decisions. I told him, nicely, of course, to please pass along my request for US grown produce when it is available and in season, to upper management. He told me there was a toll free number at the bottom of every cash register receipt and gave me the name of the fellow in charge of produce, saying my voice as a customer would carry more weight than his. When I got a piece of paper out of my purse to write the name down, he must have figured I was not just a complaining customer, but one who was going to follow through on this. He took me around to the displays and pointed out his displeasure at certain offerings. This was the worst offender, in his opinion. I agree, especially since I grow my own garlic here at the Fairegarden. If I can grow it, it can’t be that difficult to grow and I know that Gilroy, CA used to the the Garlic Capital Of The World! What happened?
I did call the telephone number and left a message about asparagus and other produce that I distinctly remember being grown in the USA. I was surprised when a couple of days later the head office called me back. We had a very nice chat about food, growers and healthy eating. He sounded sympathetic and said this, “It will take a grass roots movement to change what has happened to our food growing chain.” My answer, “That is the beauty of the internet”. If we all do that, ask nicely for US made, or US grown, maybe the message will get across to those making decisions about what is being offered to us for sale. Maybe not, but it can’t hurt. The first time I returned to my grocery after the chat with the home office, we only have a few grocery stores in our very small town and this one is neck and head above the rest, US owned, BTW, there was no asparagus on the shelf. None. That is fine by me, and perhaps if we went back to the old ways of eating more seasonally, there would be fewer imports. I thought in the beginning that the imports were only for when the US grown products were out of season. It has since changed, as evidence by the orange juice fiasco. It was on the news that 100% of our limes being imported. 100%! It is past time to let our grocer’s know how we feel about that, is my opinion. If you don’t agree, you are entitled to your beliefs, too.
The “Are You In?” message had me checking all the tags and labels at stores and at home. I was able to find made in USA rubber boots as a Christmas gift for offspring Chickenpoet, to wear when she braves the confines of the muddy chicken coop. Score one for us. Baby steps, yes, but steps in the right direction. Checking in our own mud room, I found that the well used Sloggers are also made in the USA. Good to know. I will be reading all labels more carefully from now on.
It was in January of last year that we wrote about buying locally in the post, Local Is The New Black. The focus was on choosing locally owned small businesses over big chain stores in that story, and that is still an admirable goal. Let us add to that notion, looking at labels and requesting that any store, local or national, carry things made here. One way to be sure who is getting paid for making what we buy is to buy straight from the one who made it. Craft fairs, flea markets and online, there are sellers who need our support. On the food front, there are CSA farms, more on the list every time I check it out. Local Harvest shows what is available in your area as well as what can be ordered online. I have ordered blood oranges through them and was very happy with the quality.
Above is a casserole and bowls made by Ann Gleason, a North Carolina potter. It might just be my imagination, but food tastes better when eaten from these dishes, and knowing that food was grown under stringent guidelines is simply gravy.
I would rather have fewer things that cost more, than an overabundance of junky stuff shipped in by the millions. We as a country really do not need all that stuff, but that is a rant for another day.