Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Reading labels

This post is aimed at women RVers as the blog is titled and because we're usually the ones who shop for the groceries. I was always told not to write in anger so I waited to see if it would subside. It hasn't. Soapbox mode on.

I'm a locavore. That means I try to buy food grown and distributed locally if I can. I started to have problems doing this last year when I worked in Cloverdale and shopped at the Safeway in Healdsburg, CA, in the middle of Wine Country. There was a display of grapes in the produce section and I almost bought a package until I saw they came from South America. I went to the produce manager and asked, "Did we use all the grapes we grew for wine? Why should I buy grapes grown outside the country when I'm surrounded by grape growers?" A couple of women shopping near me overheard me, looked at the display and walked away. The following week, the same display held beautiful red grapes with American flags on the bags. Amazing what a little logic and a complaint will do.

Fourth of July came and I looked for a flag to hang on my RV. Every one I found was made in China. I didn't fly a flag. Is it too much to ask that my country's flag, a symbol many have fought and died for, be made in the USA? How much is it worth to have a US-made flag? Is there an American flag made in the USA or are we forced to buy one from China? That's not OK.

Then came Thanksgiving and for this vegetarian, I found plenty of locally-grown squash, yams, potatoes, cranberries, celery and olives. I purchased Safeway's brand of apple cider for wassail, the hot apple cider I prepare and share at the winter holidays. It said 100% juice from concentrate. As I added the cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, fresh lemon and orange slices, I went to put the bottle in the recycle bin. Then I noticed the print on the label above the title: "Concentrate from Chile, China." Huh? Did we run out of apples? Why is the apple concentrate coming from thousands of miles away? Did it come from Chile or China (there is a comma, not an and/or)? Where did they get the apples? What pesticides were used? How was it processed? How safe is it? Most important, are you telling me with all the apples we have in the US that it's cheaper to buy the concentrate from one or both countries that are thousands of miles away (and thousands of miles from each other)? No answers to those questions. That's not OK.

My Coleman watch was made in the US; the watchband was made in China and fell apart the first time it got wet. My Coleman sleeping bag, a brand I used to rely on, was made in China. That's not OK. Have we forgotten how to sew?

My plastic containers were made in China. My plastic dishes were made in Taiwan. That's not OK. Do we not manufacture plastic any more?

You do remember that it was Chinese-made dog food that poisoned our pets and was recalled. You do remember that the Chinese-made toys had lead in them and were recalled. Two men were recently executed in China because they added melamine to the baby formula that poisoned their own country's babies. That's not OK.

I love going to farmers markets (San Francisco has at least one in the city every day of the week except Mondays). The sellers are also the growers and can tell you everything about the food they've raised. The shopping bags are recyclable and made right here in the Bay Area. My coffee is fair trade and distributed locally. My tea comes from a farm in Oregon and distributed locally. Best of all, the dehydrated food I have on hand is grown organically and processed safely in the US. It's stored in canning jars made in the US by Ball Mason and Kerr since 1884. I look at my cases with their American flag on them and feel a sense of pride.

So basically, I'm asking you to think about how you shop and what you buy. Read the labels and decide whether it's OK to put it in your one precious body.
Soapbox mode off.


  1. Been there done that, posted about it too.
    I agree, why do we depend on China? who wants to get rid of us. Like everything in Walmart is "Made in China" although I shop there sometimes. You just gotta read the label...

  2. Bravo.. Please avoid ALL food from China.. Better yet stick with locally grown and raised, it just may improve your life, or even save it..

  3. I got on my "Don't buy made in China soap box" about 5 years ago and I am still on it. Not only is it food and drink but it is also clothes, household furnishings, electronics, cars, trucks, paper items, construction materials, construction tools, toys, and it also seems there are no souvenirs anywhere that are NOT made in China.
    While you must buy some items you can always choose NOT buy also.
    And contact your government Representative and complain. I do on a monthly basis.

  4. I agree and have been watching labels since the dog/cat food scare. I just discovered a new one and was flabbergasted when I discovered my Walgreens prescription for Cefaclor was manufactured by a pharmaceutical in Tachia, Taichung, Taiwan, Repiblic of China and distributed from Carlsbad, Ca. I just took my last pill when I found out upon reading the bottle label. I am going to complain on that one for sure!

  5. I couldn't have said it better; and we need to keep saying it loud and clear. Support your local growers and gain the benefit of knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced. Plus it is fresher and tastier. I am also trying to eliminate the use of plastic containers, especially in the kitchen. I have to believe American-made glass and metal products are better for us, our environment and our economy.

  6. That's something that a lot of us don't give much thought about.
    That said, you are 100% right. And we (I also) should keep a better eye on. Thank You!

  7. I used to have an organic farm in VT. Now I am old and disabled and live in a senior apartment in the Adirondacks. I have a HUGE organic garden here. I also live on $761/month in disability. I eat what I can afford. The Dollar Store sells a pound of frozen strawberries from China for $1. I eat them because it's better to have questionable strawberries than no strawberries, but I sure wish they were not from China....

  8. Keep reading labels even on items you've used for a long time! The toothpaste I've been using my whole life suddenly began sporting a "made elsewhere" label a while back. I am no longer using the toothpaste I've been using my whole life. Finding a toothpaste made in the USA to replace it was not as easy as one might imagine either.

  9. I need to correct something the poster said ... The dog food/Cat food scare was not food itself produced in China, it was from ingredients used in the food imported from China that were contaminated with melamine that caused the issues.

    The pet food was all made in US and Canada but with some contaminated ingredients from China. If you were feeding high quality, non grain included dog foods you were home free, if you fed lessor quality feed you were no so home free.

    As consumers we want to pay very little for things, hence why all the things from places like China and South America where labor is beyond dirt cheap sold to us in the US.

    If you spend any time at Walmart you support this type of consumerism. If you want to spend more for local grown, local produced you can find it, you need to shop at the more expensive specialty stores and websites.

  10. There is a DVD just recently released called "Food Inc." It's very similar to the Michael Moore genre of films. (There is also a book by the same name). If you watch the video it will put you off eating anything. Be very wary of chicken from China. Saw a video clip where a guy on a scooter in China goes around to all the farms buying up their dead chickens for further processing into food for us!!

  11. We have gotten ourselves into a "Disposable" society. So, if something breaks, we simply replace it instead of repairing it because it is cheaper. I hear young people who say they don't care - they want new and don't care if it came from China. But our landfills are full because of this attitude. China has cheap labor, therefore it perpetuates the attitude. BTW - no one has mentioned Chinese drywall forcing thousands out of their homes.

  12. Just a tip of the iceberg. Where do you think your financial information is now accessible? Nearly all banks and financial institutions have outsourced their IT processing (development, testing, back office) to India. Now you have a 3rd world country with access to your checking account, savings account, social security number, card card information, etc., etc., etc. and no one is up in arms about that! Next time you visit your local branch, ask them and listen carefully to what they say. You'll be amused at what the spin-doctors have prepared.

  13. I completely agree with buying "Made in U.S.A." products. It tears me apart to see this country ruined after everything that went into making it a great nation. For cooking purposes, I would not by a thing from China or most foreign countries. I recently purchased cast iron pans and other cooking ware. I love cast iron. I discovered some of there were made in China. I threw them away. I bought some well-made ones from Lodge, an American company that has specialised in cast iron cooking ware for over 100 years.
    Keep up the good work and good writing, A.K.

  14. Here is a link that list
    USA products to buy.

  15. Interesting that the blog even includes a google ad for things made in China.

    If you want to really understand more about the economic sisuation, we have allowed to happen, I would like to suggest that you look at a web site called the Foundation for Fiscal Reform. It is a non partisian, not for profit organzation to educate people about making economic decisions that impact our economy.

    You will learn about the trade deficit with China and the impact of the China's holding of our government paper debt.

    By the way, I have found that by deciding if something is a real need versus a want, I am able to avoid buying things made abroad.

    Eadie Regenburgh

  16. Except for computers I haven't found anything made in China that I need. Someone mentioned toothpaste and I use Shaklee toothpaste. Made in USA and no warning label. I use everything Shaklee, made in USA, no chemicals and at 77 I am healthy as a young filly. My RV is bathed in Basic H2. It is my Shakmobile. See you down the road, I hope. Happy New Year.

  17. AMEN!! About 3 years ago I was at Joann's (craft chain store) and saw a tin painted with stars and stripes. I had it in my cart for 30 minutes before I saw the Made in China sticker. I put it back and walked out, and feel the same way you do.
    I haven't read the comments yet, but I read a book called "A Year Without Made in China" after my little wake-up call. It's about a family who did the best they could living without anything made in China. It was a good read.
    I'm so glad you wrote this, and that you asked for local grapes (that cracks me up!), and that more people are waking up. :)