Made In America-Grown In America

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?

Buy this....

Not this...

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.


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24 Responses to Made In America-Grown In America

  1. Sue says:


    Thanks Sue.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    USA grown food is easier to find than USA made clothes. At least that is what I have found. It is really frustrating. Yes, I and most of my friends are trying to find more USA items to purchase. Even where I work my boss is looking at USA made items to sell. She just returned from Market and said it was difficult to find such but is in the hunt. Have a great weekend Frances.

    That’s what scares me, Lisa, that the food situation could become the same as clothing, shoes, and so many other things. It needs to be stopped, in my opinion. It was the 100% of limes being imported that got me going. People need to know, I don’t think they are aware. My last grocery visit, I was looking for one yellow onion for a dish I was preparing. There was another lady also looking for one onion. All the sticky labels said Peru!!! What happened to the famous Vidalias from Georgia, just a few miles from where I live? We need to make our voices heard. You too enjoy your weekend, my friend.

  3. We can get most food here in Shropshire, England, from farmers markets. We have 5 within a few miles of here mostly on farms themselves, where we can get all fruit and veg that we do not grow ourselves, meat from the farm itself. Most of our meat we get from a community farm which rears the animals organically and has a butcher on site. It has to be said we grow most of our own fruit and veg and have hens for our eggs.
    Try to get anything other than food that is of English origin and we come unstuck, as this country doesn’t seem capable of manufacturing anything any more. Most things come from China, Vietnam etc. – a sad state of affairs.

    Thanks for joining in this conversation, Green Bench. It was textiles that we first noticed, but they were cheap, so we thought, okay. Now it is everything. We can get food at farmer’s markets, too, and do, but where we live, there is next to nothing during the winter months and the markets are closed. I don’t object to blueberries from Chile in the off season, but when it is blueberry season here, those berries offered should be from the US. Just my opinion, but that does not seem to be the case. We must speak up.

  4. debbie in knoxville says:

    Great post, Frances. I found some strawberries the other day at Walmart that were grown in Florida and they were head and shoulders above the usual hard, white-centered berries offered. These were small, dark red, sweet and very juicy. Next time I looked – they didn’t have the same brand. Your examples definitely have inspired me to read the labels more closely. Thanks!

    Thanks Debbie. It pays to look at the country of origin, now more than ever. Fruits, especially, are coming into season in the warmer parts of the US now. Look, and speak up.

  5. Gail says:

    I try to buy American made goods, it’s quite difficult when almost everything is made in China. I am very picky about food and we are fortunate to be able to get eggs, meats and veggies year round. Toothpicks were the proverbial straw for me. Did you know that toothpicks are imported from China! Can you believe that; they used to be made in Maine! Imagine a shipping container filled with toothpicks when we have a forest industry! It boggles the mind. Thanks for your rallying cry dear Frances. xoxogail

    Toothpicks! Of all things, it certainly is mind boggling. Thanks for adding in here. Rally cry, indeed!

  6. Layanee says:

    Great post. Just last week I bought asparagus with the label ‘Grown in Peru’ and my question was ‘How much did the Peruvian farmer make from this sale price of $1.79 per bunch’? Really, most of the cost of that product must be in the shipping and the next question would be ‘When was this asparagus picked’? Is it one week old, two weeks, five weeks. We all know that nutritional value decreases with shelf life. I can’t wait for my asparagus to emerge this spring. It will be the first harvest and there is no way I would sell them for 1.79 per bunch. In fact, these will be priceless.

    Thanks Layanee. There are so many reasons why that Peruvian asparagus is offensive to me, you name a very good one. I am looking into growing my own, too. Preparing the bed this season, to plant next spring. Priceless is right!

  7. commonweeder says:

    This is an excellent post and I am sure it will get people thinking. We have been label readers for a long time and it is often shocking to see where canned goods, and clothing comes from. We have bought cars made in the USA, but they are usually non-USA companies. American jobs at least. I have a small vegetable garden and grow my own garlic and next year I am planting lots of onions. They are deer proof! Fortunately we have a big local food movement in our area and the newest development is the winter farmers market selling not only winter vegetables, but meat, apples, cheeses, naturally fermented pickles, and jams. CISA (Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture) is working with farmers to create more winter storage space, and increase the capabilities of the ‘community kitchen’ where farmers can produce added value to their crops – jams, spaghetti sauce, salsa etc, and now freezing capabilities. Some of the businesses like Real Pickles who buy their organic produce locally are philosophically devoted to buying and selling local – defined as the Northeast. It is very exciting to see the revival of small farms, and women farmers in our area – and hungry markets who welcome them.

    Sweet, sweet gospel music to my ears, Pat, thanks for sharing how your area is meeting this challenge! There are so many levels that this food issue addresses, including helping the small farmers keep their land going to produce healthy food for us. Seeing last night on the news about General Motors returning to prominence was a morale boost, as well. We need to be aware, read labels and speak up. Call those 800 numbers!

  8. Rose says:

    Applause, applause for this excellent post, Frances! Every day on the news I hear about another company going bankrupt (I can’t believe Kodak is the latest) and the latest statistics on unemployment. Yet when I go shopping, it’s hard to find products that are made in the USA. Something is terribly wrong here! I think a grass roots effort is the only way to make our voices heard and to promote change. I’m still shaking my head about the garlic from China…

    Thanks Rose, but it is more than applause that I am asking for with this post. Pass the word, Call the 800 numbers on the receipts of the big stores and ask for a change in where this stuff is produced. Kodak may have been too slow to see the change that digital cameras was making, they were one of the first to develop the technology. Our businesses need to know this is a battle, no more coasting on successes of the past. That garlic was indeed awful, unacceptable!!!!

  9. Leslie says:

    All I can say is ‘Amen’. People need to rethink this mindset and change…we do not need instant gratification. For everything there is a season and asparagus season will be here soon enough. It is all part of taking care of ourselves, our families, our country, and our earth.

    Thanks Leslie. This matters, alot. It is important and I believe that people don’t know, especially about the food. I am talking to other shoppers in the produce department, Tennessee is a friendly, chatty place anyway, about looking at the labels and being disgusted about the imports when those things are in season in the US.

  10. michaele says:

    Thank you for a very worthwhile and thought provoking post. The effort to buy American really must become something we are all more proactive about. I guess the one produce item that has particularly caught my eye in a surprised way the past couple of months has been the asparagus. In years gone by, if I wanted to serve asparagus this time of year, I would expect to buy it in the frozen foods aisle. Hmmm, and now I’m wondering if frozen vegetables are American grown.
    Well, I decided before I hit post comment to look over some frozen vegetable boxes in my freezer. One Green Giant product didn’t have any obvious info so I gave the consumer relations 800 number a call. I was able to get affirmation the product was from US grown vegetables and I did make a point to share with the rep that it matters to some consumers where stuff originates. Thanks, Frances, for the nudge.

    Well done, Michaele! We need to be educated consumers, which means more than buying whatever is the cheapest price. If I believed in conspiracies, this would be a prime example. Undercut the competition with way cheaper prices, drive everyone else out of business, grow your own economy, loan us money when we have hit hard times, then raise the prices and squeeze us even more. Oops, got off topic there for a minute, sorry. But really, it matters where things originate, especially food.

  11. Chiot's Run says:

    This is something we’ve been focusing on here at Chiot’s Run as well. I’ve spent a few years developing my local food web thus it’s getting much easier. I do think that it takes a shift in thinking/shopping though. I haven’t stepped foot in a grocery store in years and I don’t really expect them to start finding/sourcing local product. I’d actually much rather buy directly from the farmer/producer because I’d rather they get 100% of my money. For me it’s not just about buying made/grown in the USA it’s about making sure that I’m supporting my local community as much as possible and supporting small independent farms.

    And I totally agree on not buying whatever is the cheapest in price. It always fascinates me that people think they need to be paid good wages for what they do, yet expect others to make meager wages so they can buy things as cheaply as possible.

    I am totally on board with the local businesses and food since we own an ice cream shop in Asheville. Big chains want to come in and put the locals out of business by undercutting the prices. The public needs to be aware of what is happening, and also what happens when those local businesses and farmers are so treated. It benefits us all to read those labels and spend our funds where it does the most good for all.

  12. A good and timely post, Frances. We stopped buying Brazilian-made OJ after the news about the unregulated use of pesticides there. But it is very hard to find OJ made only in the U.S.! It shouldn’t be.

    Thanks Pam. I began writing this before that orange juice scare, but kept it as a draft as it developed with the call back from the grocery headquarters. I started buying oranges and squeezing my own juice, fresh each day when it was on the news about the so-called fresh squeezed being so overprocessed, and not fresh! It is more work, for sure, but I savor each glass of juice that much more.

  13. Frances, I love your rant, and couldn’t agree more. I posted this morning about an oddity…a farm in the middle of the third largest city in our State. It saddens me that it’s basically a museum now, to show what once was, not what is. Everything is outsourced in this new global economy, and although that may be convenient for corporate conglomerates, it hurts those here at home, deeply, who strive to eek out a living, and compete. We’re very fortunate that our Farmer’s Market locally runs year around. That helps to supplement what we grow here. I used to like grocery shopping, but when I really started paying attention to what I was buying, I came to loathe it. It’s not just about carbon footprints, flying that one bell pepper from Chile in December, it’s about supporting our local economies, be they farmers, or potters. We should be shopping at home first.

    Thanks CV. What you say is sad about that farm, a museum rather than a producing business. We need to educate others, is my opinion. I wasn’t aware about the asparagus, or the citrus. I am glad it seems to be getting play on the news as well, although I know many younger folks who never watch the news. Social media can play a role to help with that. Most people want to eat healthier.

  14. I’m a label reader, too, and try to buy Canadian whenever I can. Americans are blessed in the produce department, though – looking only for Canadian-grown limes would mean going without limes entirely. I’m also behind you in that conspiracy rant, Frances. Yet, I do notice that the culprits are often domestic corporations moving their buying off-shore for the sake of profit as well as our own obsession with cheap. Most of the time, I’d rather pay more to support a local business. For example, I *never* shop at the store with the initials WM. Don’t get me started on all the reasons why. But I know that many of us are addicted to, or indeed revel in, low-price finds. We have to change first… then do as you suggest to drive that change upwards through the system from the grass roots.

    Thanks for joining in here, Helen. Whenever I see *Product of Canada* on the produce, peppers in particular right at the moment, I feel safe and comfortable buying it. It seems that Canada is growing things in greenhouses now, you have so much land, and that is a good thing. Better than Peru, which is not regulated in the same way as the US and Canada. As for those low low prices, we have paid the price for that addiction with loss of jobs overseas. That is a rant for another day, all that stuff we don’t really need.

  15. My Kids Mom says:

    Many people have lost sight of what foods are in season when. Our grandparents and their grandparents had their hands in the soil and could never not know what grew when. But with more food purchased than grown, the growing seasons have all blurred. Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver and others have helped bring focus back to this.

    I’m looking for the Animal Vegetable Mineral flow chart of seasonal foods… can’t find it…. But I loved how she explained that we start the year with sprouts (asparagus) and leaves (spinach) and work our way up to tender seeds (peapods) to sturdy seed pods (zucchini) to hearty seed pods (pumpkins) and then send the nutrients into the earth to the roots (carrots) to begin again in the spring.

    Thanks Jill. What a delightful way to describe the food seasons, I had never heard that before. I am old enough to remember not being able to buy everything in the produce section all the time. It seemed cool in the beginning to be able to get out of season stuff. No longer cool.

  16. Vicki says:

    I also have been planting my own garlic for many years now and have been growing and “putting up” more vegetables each year. It is difficult to find local produce during the winter and reading the labels and asking questions is the only way to determine where our food is coming from. I am optimistic that the “slow food” movement is taking hold and more small farms are producing greens during the winter here in Ohio by “tunnel” gardening. An inspiring (for me, at least) read is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Grass root – and isn’t that term itself a great one?- change is what will make the difference.

    Thanks for adding in here, Vicki. You are the second one to mention Ms. Kingsolver and I will definitely be reading this book. I hope you are right about the slow food movement taking hold. The local farmer’s markets here have grown and our city built them a nice paved and covered location in which to sell their produce. Keep moving in that direction and there is hope!

  17. Vicky says:

    Speaking of asparagus from Peru, I remember reading in “Flower Confidential” by Amy Stewart that when asparagus arrives at an airport from South America it is fumigated as a matter of course to prevent foreign pests from arriving in this country. I can’t remember if “fumigated” is the technical term, but it is essentially gassed to kill insects. It may not have been proven to be harmful to humans, but it is an icky thought. (This info was a side note in Amy Stewart’s book as she was following cut flowers through their journey from grower to customer and toured airport inspections).

    Thanks for that, Vicky. I believe I remember the buzz about the treatment that imports were getting when Amy’s book came out. Just another reason to insist on if not locally, at least US grown food.

  18. Well said Frances. Pays to do your homework on where food and goods are coming from!

    Thanks Janet. We all need to be proactive consumers, of everything!

  19. Christina says:

    Frances, thank you so much for this brave post. I couldn’t agree more with you! I buy mostly organically grown produce, but I need to do more label checking, where it comes from. I also intend to sign up for a “food box” from one of our local organic farmers.

    Thanks Christina. I don’t know about brave, but indignant seems about right. In the beginning, the organic produce was so much more expensive and looked kind of sad. It has gotten much better as more people make the switch. If I can find organic, that is what goes in my cart. I am signing up for a local CSA as well. This is the first year there has been one anywhere near my small town. Things are looking up!

  20. ricki says:

    Portland OR is a DIY society, largely, and locally grown is pretty much the mantra of most local restaurants. If you watch “Portlandia” it might seem like broad satire, but many here view it as almost a documentary. Good to hear similar attitudes coming from other parts of the country. Rant on, Frances!

    Thanks for adding in here, Ricki. Some parts of the country are way ahead on this issue. Asheville, NC is an example in my region, but my small TN town needs to go a long way to catch up to you guys. We’re trying!

  21. Excellent point! I buy all of our beef from local farms and will always buy an American made product over an import unless the import is of higher quality. But I’ve been to farmers markets where the food wasn’t local and had been shipped in from another part of the country or purchased at big box club stores and resold. I think we just have to be vigilant, regardless of where we shop.

    Thanks for adding in here, Casa. I am saddened that a farmer’s market would sell food that came from a big box store like that. You are right about being vigilant, on guard and check those labels.

  22. Carol says:

    I’m in. I always look at the produce and refuse to buy if not grown in the USA. I’m trying to do that with other goods, but it is sure hard sometimes.

    Good to hear it, Carol. It can be hard to find those made in the USA products, so true. But all of this attention, our local news station just tonight showcased the Lodge cast iron company that makes skillets, etc. I honestly did not know they were located so close, and that they still make most all of the cast iron cookware sold in the US. Knowledge helps us make better choices.

  23. Linda says:

    Thank you, Frances, for putting a fire under my ass………..I’ve been very good, in general, with buying American, but got a little complacent, as I got busier. I mentor, teaching recycling into Art. I’ve also started to teach composting and label reading (my “kids” are 9-13……they think I’m crazy). I must say, this is a vital subject…….you have stirred many, here into making a little more effort. You’ve done a great thing! Only with a heartfelt, grassroots effort, can we validate the salts of our earth, by buying from our neighbors (it’s so simple, it’s ridiculous!) Thanks for the reminder and shaking things up, a bit!

    My thanks to you< Linda. Teaching our children, and grandchildren is the smartest and easiest way to get the message across about the wisdom of local food, locally made goods and keeping our economy as well as the Earth healthy and strong. Complacent is the perfect word. We assumed, wrongly that the powers that be, whether business or government would always do what is the right thing. Not so, it seems, we need to speak up and let our voices be heard.

  24. I’m all for buying local–especially for food! That’s why I belong to a CSA. The price is less than $400 for a whole season (May-November) of local, organic fruits and veggies. And with a rebate from my HMO, the cost comes down to less than $200! The produce tastes so fresh and flavorful! I grow some of my own veggies, too, but with a shady garden that’s a little challenging. Nothing like fresh-picked tomatoes and lettuce on a BLT! Great post!

    Thanks Plant Postings, for joining in the conversation here. I agree that CSA membership is an excellent way to get fresh produce for much of the year. Where I live, there is finally one CSA that I can join, and will be doing so in spring. I agree about the tomatoes, that is the first use of them for us too, a BLT. It tastes like heaven.

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