Made In The U.S.A.

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Could responsible lumber involve exotic Brazilian hardwoods?

In Resources on March 31, 2009 at 12:31 am

It has just occurred to me that maybe the best lumber option for my forthcoming fence and eventual deck will be the least American option.

There’s this newly popular Brazilian hardwood called Ipe (pronounced ee-pay) that is great for decks and fences because it’s very impervious to weather and insects. It’s super-dense and really exceptionally long lasting. It’s also really beautiful, and really expensive. Read the rest of this entry »

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck was an ecologically friendly purchaser of timber products?

In Adventures on March 30, 2009 at 12:59 am

I have spared you the painful details about lumber long enough. Here’s the thing, you have two issues (if you’re me) regarding buying lumber. One, is it MITUSA. Two, is it the conscientious choice.

I inquired at Home Depot’s service desk about the origin of its lumber. The guy called another guy and they chatted and hemmed and hawed and, Read the rest of this entry »

Good fences make you want to gouge your eyes out with a Home Depot gift card.

In Adventures on March 29, 2009 at 12:21 am

I want to build a fence.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and as the weather warms up I’m ready to do it. First, I need to figure out the details.

I spent last evening calculating the logistics of where and how it will be built. The hard part is going to be finding materials I can use. Read the rest of this entry »

Is that a Qingdao Double Butterfly in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

In Resources on March 28, 2009 at 12:13 am

In a move expected to cost 300 American jobs, the government is switching to cheaper off-shore condoms, including some made in China.

The excerpt above is taken from a Kansas City Star story about USAID, distributors of more than 10 billion MITUSA condoms to prevent AIDS in poor communities around the world, moving from Alabama-made condoms to Chinese-made condoms. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m tired of weird commercials.

In Resources on March 27, 2009 at 12:47 am

This is only tangentially related to buying. It’s directly related to shopping, which is motivated by advertising and can lead to buying. So.

Is anybody else ready for those “weird for the sake of being weird” commercials to stop altogether? Like now. Immediamente.

Burger King is probably to blame. They started with a dancing online chicken thingy a few years ago, and that spawned weirdness on TV. Then they did the whole series of “reality” commercials Read the rest of this entry »

Green With Indie

In Adventures on March 26, 2009 at 12:38 am

I thumbed through the Riverfront Times the other day and learned about the Green With Indie craft fair. It was this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Brought to you by the folks at the St. Louis Craft Mafia. (“We got your crafts right here.”)

My first thought: I should go!

Then I really thought about it and realized I don’t particularly need anything at the moment. Read the rest of this entry »

What does Buying American mean?

In Resources on March 25, 2009 at 12:07 am

I pondered this question in the car yesterday, on my way home, stuck in traffic on the Forest Park Parkway. I wrote it on the back of a McDonald’s receipt and enjoyed the incongruity.

What does Buying American mean? Read the rest of this entry »


In Adventures on March 24, 2009 at 12:51 am

Sometime this afternoon it occurred to me what I should do for dinner. I decided to pick up my old favorite dish from Lemongrass–the finest Vietnamese restaurant in south St. Louis. It used to be #89. Then it became #92. Now it’s S-7. Whatever the menu calls it, it’s always delicious. Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Mmm. Read the rest of this entry »

Worst Company In America

In Resources on March 23, 2009 at 12:36 am

If you, like me, assume that the bigger a company is the more likely it is to harm or kill you for a profit, then you should read The Consumerist. The Consumerist is where regular people like you and me rise up and revolt against the corporations who have our worst interests at heart.

How does this tie in to buying American? Because buying American is buying with some sort of conscience. The Consumerist stands in for a corporate Read the rest of this entry »

Another reason to listen to Wilco

In Adventures on March 22, 2009 at 12:12 am

As if you don’t already have enough reason to listen to the band Wilco, allow me to add another.

They just sent me a presale notification for an upcoming movie about the band. I followed links to the band’s site, and resulting web store, and eventually found this–a statement of MITUSA-ness: Read the rest of this entry »

Flies in the Gasoline

In Resources on March 21, 2009 at 12:54 am

My friend Adam called me the other night. And then he called me out.

His point was, essentially, that unless I’m doing without gasoline I’m not really “only buying American.”

That hurts, Adam. That hurts. Read the rest of this entry »

My New Yorker magazine ripoff: The Saint Louiser

In Resources on March 20, 2009 at 12:58 am

While I prefer Tiger Beat and the National Review, my pal Elon reads the New Yorker. (I don’t understand why. He lives in Los Angeles.) He mentioned to me that the recent Style Issue includes a story on Buying American.

Though they didn’t contact me for a quote, I approve of their effort. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Store Day is April 18th

In Adventures on March 19, 2009 at 12:18 am

A band of which I am a fan just sent me an email inviting me to purchase a record. They are My Morning Jacket and, it would appear, they also care about how they sell and how we buy. Read the rest of this entry »

Responsible Shopper

In Resources on March 18, 2009 at 12:40 am

There’s a site called Green America that publishes a Responsible Shopper guide for people who want to be, well, responsible shoppers.

At first blush I wonder how many of the “facts” on the web site are actually made up of rumor, opinion and innuendo.

For example, the Wal Mart page says “Wal-Mart hurts U.S. communities by undercutting local merchants and increasing urban sprawl, and its suppliers have been cited for labor and human rights violations.” Read the rest of this entry »

Is a Bee Farm more like a Flea Circus or an Ant Colony?

In Adventures on March 17, 2009 at 12:37 am

I’m writing this between preparing a snack and eating that snack. The snack is honey on bread. I don’t really have a name for it, but if I did it would probably be something like “honey bread.”

At Schnucks last week I picked up a block of fresh, in-the-comb honey from the Gibbons Bee Farm in Ballwin, MO. That’s pretty local; maybe 15 miles away? I’m pretty impressed that the regular supermarket has any local products. Read the rest of this entry »

This post contains information or it does not contain information.

In Adventures on March 16, 2009 at 12:50 am

I’ve been carrying around a Best Buy gift card for months now. It was from a Christmas return that I had hoped to trade in for something else–in particular, I wanted the “Scene It – Seinfeld” game. I know, I’m a dork. You’ve got secrets too, I’m sure.

When I scoped out the Seinfeld game, though, I learned that the disc was Made In China. So I skipped it. Read the rest of this entry »

Crest: The only toothpaste for decent human beings.

In Adventures on March 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

I keep picking up bananas at the grocery store and making it halfway down the aisle before I remember: Chiquita bananas do not come from America. (And if you’re gonna tell me your grocery store stocks some other brand besides Chiquita… I demand proof.) Tonight’s batch was, I believe, from Ecuador.

Ditto shrimp. Although with them I remember to check the bag before I get them back to the cart. Every time I find an origin, it’s Thailand. Apparently Read the rest of this entry »

Catching American-Made Fish with American-Made Fishing Tackle

In Adventures on March 14, 2009 at 12:58 am

My fishing buddy, Henry, was in town this afternoon to make a stop at Bass Pro. I went to visit him and scope out a bit of pre-season fishing info. Not so much about the fishing, but more about what my options will be when it comes time to buy American-made fishing gear.

Part of the fun of fishing, presumably like part of the fun of golf or photography or woodworking or whatever, is buying the stuff that facilitates your hobby. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s have a quiz.

In Adventures on March 13, 2009 at 12:57 am

1. If I wrote about a sportswear company called J. America, where would you expect that company to manufacture its products?

a) America
b) Anywhere but America

2. If that organization listed a “Company Vision” on its web site, would that vision be: Read the rest of this entry »

We’re probably going to hell for this.

In Adventures on March 12, 2009 at 12:34 am

Shelley and I had another shopping adventure last weekend. Sounds like all we do, right?

She’s been hearing tales about this place that she now refers to as “The Everything’s $35 Store.” The way she made it sound, you knock on a door in a strange part of town, give the guy a dollar and get into a warehouse to buy discount fashions and things. Her mind was filled with fantasies of this place, so we finally set out to find it. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying is beautiful.

In Adventures on March 11, 2009 at 12:21 am

It would appear that I’m not the only person spending a year with a shopping agenda. The Anderson family, from Chicago, is joining me in their own version of my quest. While mine is to buy American, theirs is to buy black.

Many thanks to Elon for bringing their story to my attention.

They have a publicist and a web site and scientific data and all sorts of reasons why they should do what they do. I just Read the rest of this entry »

The Very Definition of Irony

In Adventures on March 10, 2009 at 12:32 am

It arrived in the mail today.



“When labor is cheap, growth can be breathtaking.”

In Adventures on March 9, 2009 at 12:20 am

That’s what Ted Koppel says.

His China thing is really staying with me.

China’s influence on my life seemed minimal not long ago. It is much greater right now. It will only have more influence tomorrow. It will grow exponentially.

That doesn’t feel great. But there’s nothing I can do about it. Read the rest of this entry »

I have a reader!

In Adventures on March 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I should clarify: I have a reader who is neither related to me nor on the payroll, and I don’t know him personally. That feels surprisingly nice.

He writes a blog too, and I have a feeling it will come in pretty handy.

As far as I can tell, he’s officially a genius and quite possibly the perfect human being. Read the rest of this entry »

Ted Koppel’s China

In Adventures on March 8, 2009 at 12:04 am

As I write this I’m watching a Discovery Channel miniseries on China hosted by Ted Koppel. It’s called “The People’s Republic of Capitalism,” and this episode is about China’s changing automotive economy.

I looked online for a clip, and while I couldn’t find one I did find this trailer. It’s nice, but it doesn’t have the great pull-quotes. Read the rest of this entry »

I feel dirty.

In Adventures on March 7, 2009 at 12:49 am

Last night Shelley and I went to the mall.

She bought me a lovely sportcoat for Christmas, but it didn’t fit. (I’m larger than usual.) So we returned it a while ago and finally went to replace it.

I had also received a button-down shirt from The Gap. That Christmas gift from her aunt was also too small, and when I went to exchange it post Christmas the store was ransacked, so I waited. Last night, I traded it in. Read the rest of this entry »

As Gomer Pyle would say…

In Adventures on March 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

…Surprise, surprise, surprise.

This poster at was surprised to learn that his new digital camera was made in Thailand. He kinda thought he was buying an American camera. Funny. You can’t do that. Here’s how it went down: Read the rest of this entry »

Why Buy American? Part II.

In Resources on March 5, 2009 at 12:08 am

After telling my friend, Elon (*Reader #6), about my fancy-schmancy blog he visited and read and even posted some comments. He also gave me some good feedback:

I’m digging the blog a lot, but wondering why you didn’t delve deeper into your initial motivations. I wanna know more.

To which I replied, after some babbling about buying American being just a whim:

I think the conglomerate answer is that it seemed like one simple thing I could do that would have a wide-ranging impact for me, personally. So instead of buying local or growing my own or saving money or buying less or not buying junk or buying organically or shopping green or supporting the American worker or fighting companies that ship jobs offshore or generally doing lots of different “responsible consumer” things, this one step might lead me to a bit of all that. And so far, I think it has.

I’m happy enough with that answer to share it.


(* Readers: #1 Shelley, #2 Leah, #3 Jeremy, #4 Dan, #5 Crystal, #6 Elon, #7 Bryn. Hi everybody.)

Nissan used to be Datsun. Now it’s American.

In Adventures on March 4, 2009 at 12:40 am

Thanks to my newest readers, Elon and Bryn, for continuing commentary and inspiration.

Bryn, the car expert, commented on my car conundrum by offering a link to a great article at Edmunds. Here’s an excerpt:

Don’t tell anyone in Canton—where Nissan builds the Altima, Armada, Quest and Titan—that Nissan’s domestic product isn’t American. The Mississippi plant puts food in American mouths, and the plant’s profits underwrite an increasing amount of Nissan design and engineering in the States.

So is that Nissan an “American” car? Sure sounds like it.


My Etsy addiction rears its ugly head. Again.

In Adventures on March 3, 2009 at 12:01 am

I decided to pitch a story to the photo magazines about selling photographs on Etsy. A friend of a friend does exactly that, and she’s averaging more than 200 print sales per month. I’d call that augmenting your income alright.

It helps that she’s a great photographer. Read the rest of this entry »

Built Mexico Tough

In Adventures on March 2, 2009 at 12:08 am

As usual, I’d be nowhere without Dan and Crystal. Dan just sent me an email about new hybrid car options–namely, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Here’s the note:  Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee and ecology

In Adventures on March 1, 2009 at 12:09 am

This isn’t your regular report about coffee and the environment and how buying responsibly involves organic and fair trade and that sort of thing. It’s a broader issue I’m interested in, and it pertains to a lot of products besides coffee. Here’s what I want to know: is delivery bad for the environment.

As I sit sipping my Kaldi’s Organic Fair Trade coffee, I think about how I preferred the flavor of the last locally roasted coffee I picked up from Oregon Trail Read the rest of this entry »