Made In The U.S.A.

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One more thing.

In Adventures on January 11, 2010 at 8:24 pm

My previous post was also going to be my last, but then I decided I’d better tell you about one more thing: what it’s like to go shopping after a year of buying only American-made goods.

It’s a trip.

I found myself standing in the grocery store, looking at all the things I’d avoided for a year. Olive oil. Avocados. Certain varieties of vegetables and fruits. Junk. Read the rest of this entry »


In Adventures on January 9, 2010 at 12:52 am

Limiting consumption. That’s really what buying American is all about. A more conscientious method of buying. Awareness. It ain’t about the economy. It won’t save jobs. Do you realize how impossible it would be to convince someone to pay $8 an hour for American labor instead of 70 cents for that same hour in China? Even if you wanted it seven times as good and were willing to pay that exorbitant premium for higher quality, you’d still be better off paying those inexpensive hands to do it. This is what you learn buying greeting cards, or books, or games. It’s what I know, now, after a year of trying to convince myself otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »


In Adventures on January 7, 2010 at 12:58 am

Do you want to see how much stuff I bought this year? I can’t show you the things themselves. Many of them I ate. But I told you about most of the others. And about how I spent so much time limiting my purchases and buying so much less than I usually do. So you might expect the evidence of my year’s purchases to be rather minimal.

Nope. Read the rest of this entry »


In Adventures on January 5, 2010 at 12:51 am

A lot of my awareness this year centers around the concept of waste. Namely, we’re a wasteful society. I’m a wasteful guy. Being American is, in many ways, being wasteful.

Buying American, though, is a good way to limit what you buy. A great way to stop being quite so wasteful. Not quite so excessive. And that’s a good thing. Read the rest of this entry »

A year of catalogs.

In Adventures on January 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

Did you wonder how many catalogs I received this year? Even if you didn’t, I’m going to tell you. It was this many: Read the rest of this entry »

Happy New Year.

In Adventures on January 1, 2010 at 12:43 am

I’m done.

Time to go buy some junk, just because I can.


Is buying American a joke?

In Adventures on December 31, 2009 at 12:38 am

To a whole lot of people, it is.

And I’m not sure if that’s unfortunate, or just fine.


I had to buy a book.

In Adventures on December 29, 2009 at 12:27 am

This is the problem with buying American: sometimes you can’t.

I needed to buy a book. For work. For my job as a writer, for which I sometimes interview people. I purchased the new book of a photographer I’ll be speaking to so that I can properly interview him without sounding like an idiot.

Is it my fault that he, or really his publisher, decided to print a book in China? More to the point, is he supposed to tell a publisher, “No, I don’t want you to publish my book if it means it won’t be printed in America.” Have you looked at photo books lately? They’re huge. And expensive. And clearly often made overseas. I don’t know too many photographers–even world-famous ones–who would argue with their publishers about where to print their books.

It’s a business. Publishers want to make money, even if it’s via your life’s most meaningfully passionate pursuit. It’s a business, and we consumers want cheap. And those businesses want profit. It’s how the system works. It’s called capitalism.

And it means that sometimes, no matter how much you’d like to avoid it, you have to buy things that are not MITUSA.


Buy American. Or don’t. But understand why. Then choose.

In Adventures on December 27, 2009 at 12:59 am

I keep trying to sum up what I’ve purchased this year, what I haven’t purchased, and what I’ve learned about substituting for MITUSA stuff. But I can’t. There’s just so much we consume in this society, and I haven’t investigated so damn many things. Golf clubs. Flashlights. Batteries. Footballs. Video games.

I know you can buy most foods made right here in ‘Merica. But you’ve gotta be careful of avocados. And shrimp. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Aftermath

In Adventures on December 26, 2009 at 12:43 am

I received many very thoughtful gifts this year. Some were deliberately MITUSA, which I found to be a very sweet gesture from my family and friends. Other gifts were accidentally MITUSA–gifts that were given that just happened to be Made In The USA. Here’s a rundown.

Deviled Egg Tray. This gift, the result of a gag gift exchange, is not only quite desirable around my house, it’s randomly MITUSA. Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.

In Adventures on December 25, 2009 at 12:00 am

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’


What we can learn from my phone.

In Adventures on December 23, 2009 at 12:24 am

You may recall that I bought a cell phone this year. How do you buy an American-made cell phone, you ask? You buy one that has become a “naturalized citizen.” You buy a used phone.

That’s exactly what the site Zendoo does. They buy your junky old cell phone, and then they cell it to somebody else. Like me.

My previous cell phone was so old and awful they didn’t want it. I donated it. The recipient probably threw it away. But that’s not what this is about. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Awesome Things I’ve Learned are MITUSA

In Adventures on December 21, 2009 at 12:00 am

I hope you enjoy these. They’re going to be some of the last “hey look at this cool MITUSA thing I found” suggestions you’ll ever get from me. The year is winding down and I’m feeling a bit ponderous, so I’m guessing the posts are going to start taking a thematic, sum-up-able bent. Without further ado, until I bore you with that, allow me to bore you with this. Read the rest of this entry »

Made In The USA Clothing Store

In Adventures on December 20, 2009 at 12:44 am

From The Cutting Edge, the Carpenter’s Union publication in St. Louis, via my boss (who is not a carpenter but somehow receives this magazine):

Union Member Opens “Made In The USA Clothing Shop.”

Matt Pigg, Local 1795, his wife, Kendra, and Brooke Smith have opened a “Made in the USA” clothing apparel shop located at 104 West Columbia Street in Farmington, Missouri, just off of the Square. The grand opening was held on September 19th. Read the rest of this entry »

Art consumer. Consumer art.

In Adventures on December 19, 2009 at 12:25 am

Kate Bingaman-Burt makes great art. See?

Mostly, she encourages people to think about what they buy. Sound familiar?

I really like her work. Maybe you should go buy some.


More Last Minute Gift Ideas

In Adventures on December 17, 2009 at 12:39 am

Have I mentioned this blog: If I haven’t, I should have. It’s a great resource for finding stuff that’s MITUSA. So if you’re stuck for ideas on American-made gifts, give it a look. How about an axe? Or a flashlight? Or a cleaning solvent?


Last minute gift ideas…

In Adventures on December 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

…for the stylish in your life.

A selection of great MITUSA goods, from furniture to lighting to decor and much more.


“What have children ever done for us?”

In Adventures on December 13, 2009 at 12:52 am

“Well, they make our shoes and wallets.”

— Kenneth Parcell, 30 Rock


People Got A Lotta Nerve

In Adventures on December 11, 2009 at 12:35 am

The worst thing about living in the future is the comments on the Internet. You know, the place where people turn into animals and treat each other like shit? I hate that.

Here’s a good example that also shows how passionate people get about buying American: a customer discussion at titled “Is anyone trying to buy American-made things?” Well duh. Don’t they read this blog? Read the rest of this entry »

Children’s Books

In Adventures on December 9, 2009 at 12:26 am

In the course of my holiday shopping, I’ve made a disconcerting and highly disappointing discovery. The majority of the children’s books I’ve sought for purchase are printed overseas.

The most popular presses are in China, although Singapore more specifically gets credit a large amount of the time. (Is that because “Printed in Singapore” somehow reads better than “Printed in China”?) Read the rest of this entry »

The SS Santa Claus

In Adventures on December 7, 2009 at 12:42 am

The massive cargo ships that bring us all the stuff we buy are destroying the planet. Read all about it.

– Just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulfur pollution as all the world’s cars.

– There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America. Read the rest of this entry »

Jumpin Jammerz

In Adventures on December 5, 2009 at 12:35 am



One more thing about China.

In Adventures on December 3, 2009 at 12:38 am

If you would care to read more about our increasing trade imbalance, specifically as it relates to the 60% (or $22 billion) of our outgoing funds traveling directly to China, you should click here to read an article from Time. Or you could just read this excerpt: Read the rest of this entry »

Bring it on, December.

In Adventures on December 1, 2009 at 12:20 am

Here we are. The start of the 12th month of a 12-month process. Coincidentally, the start of the month in which us U.S. Americans buy a whole crapload of junk we don’t need so that our friends and family will get off our backs for a few weeks. (Just kidding. I know that gift giving is a means of rudimentary bribe, made to convince those we love to stick around for another year.) Read the rest of this entry »

China: Still Developing

In Adventures on November 29, 2009 at 12:44 am

Today on NPR’s Fresh Air, Terry Gross spoke to Orville Schell, an expert on China. They discussed many issues–climate change, clean energy, US/China relations, trade, human rights and more–because they’re all related. And they all affect us over here in North America. The thing that really struck me was this: China is still a developing country. Read the rest of this entry »

Cheater, cheater, punkin eater.

In Adventures on November 27, 2009 at 12:01 am

In the immortal words of Jerry Falwell, I have sinned against you. Unlike Mr. Falwell, though, I’m really sorry.

Allow me to apologize for explicitly and deliberately purchasing paper from Japan. I am sorry. Really.

BUT… allow me please to also offer a bit of explanation that I hope you will find eases your pain and my disgrace. Read the rest of this entry »

The things that matter most might not really be things.

In Adventures on November 25, 2009 at 12:53 am

Shelley always says that. On Facebook she does, anyway. It’s usually in conjunction with cute pictures of nephews and stuff. It’s a nice sentiment for a lot of reasons.

And now, perhaps for the first time in my life, stuff is really and truly way down on the list of things I’m thankful for. I don’t mean to sound like my priorities were completely out of whack before this year, or that I’m living like a monk or something. But really, I’m not thankful for a video game or a car or a new jacket or any of the other things it’s so easy to buy just because it feels so good. I’m finally thankful for important stuff rather than consumable stuff. And I’m thankful for that too.

Happy Thanksgiving.



Building with whole trees.

In Adventures on November 23, 2009 at 12:48 am

I had a hard time finding lumber for my fencing and decking projects. To the point that I developed analysis paralysis, and now I’m waiting until next year. But it never occurred to me that I could go around the whole processed lumber thing. Not by buying locally milled lumber, but by building with whole unprocessed pre-lumber-ified trees. That’s my kind of “tree house.” Get it?

### Read the rest of this entry »

High-Tech Digital Camera Equipment Made In The USA

In Adventures on November 21, 2009 at 12:34 am

Some of you may know that I moonlight as a camera “expert.” In researching a recent story about digital camera media cards (those little wafers of digital “film” that you put in your cameras these days) I learned that one of them, a brand with a fairly strong reputation, is actually proudly Made In The USA.

Hoodman, a company of digital camera gadgets and accessories, is based in Torrance, California. Read the rest of this entry »

Last call…

In Adventures on November 19, 2009 at 12:46 am

Alright campers, this is your last chance to tell me where to go and what to do. Suggest a GREAT gift idea, something that qualifies as MITUSA, and you could win. Read the rules and reasons here, and then send in your best ideas. Or even any ideas at all! It’s getting close to go time!


Eating Animals

In Adventures on November 17, 2009 at 12:26 am

1. I am a meatitarian. I eat a lot of meat. Red, white, the other white. Even fish. I like meat.

2. I am probably the type of person Jonathan Safran Foer is talking about when he refers to the fact that so many Americans don’t ever stop to consider where the meat they eat comes from.

Foer says his problem with meat isn’t that some people make the decision to eat it; instead, it’s that people don’t think about the decision. Read the rest of this entry »

The more things change…

In Adventures on November 15, 2009 at 12:02 am

…the more they stay the same.

From the London School of Economics and Political Science Archives, I present this 104-year-old editorial cartoon: Read the rest of this entry »

By way of some sort of explanation, I present this email exchange.

In Adventures on November 13, 2009 at 12:06 am

Subject: Your blog
From: Chris
Seriously you’re only buying American this year? Why?

Subject: Re: Your blog
From: Me
It’s been an adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

The world’s largest MITUSA treehouse.

In Adventures on November 11, 2009 at 12:11 am

Below you will find information, a photograph and links to several more photographs of the world’s largest MITUSA-certified treehouse. What makes a MITUSA-certified treehouse, you might ask? All of the lumber–all of it–in the 100-foot-tall treehouse is reclaimed.

“When God told Horace Burgess to build a treehouse, he promised that Burgess would never run out of materials. So far he hasn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

American Brands, Foreign Owned

In Adventures on November 9, 2009 at 12:54 am

Shelley’s aunt, my soon-t0-be aunt, Jane K., forwarded a link to a story 0stensibly about brands who no longer make their products in the USA. It was an inappropriate title (thanks, MSN Money) but interesting nonetheless. I haven’t worried too much about who owns the companies that make the MITUSA stuff I buy. I’m focused on country of origin: where was this item made. Not who owns it, Read the rest of this entry »

Checking Country of Origin for Amusement

In Adventures on November 7, 2009 at 12:01 am

Next time you’re in Target, or Wal Mart, or any discount store for that matter, pay attention to the country of origin of everything you want to buy. Seriously. Just try it. Report back if you want. But just try it.

I just did it, obviously because I do it every time I’m in a store. But this time was different. Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Painter’s Tape

In Adventures on November 5, 2009 at 12:54 am

You know that blue painter’s tape that you probably have in a drawer somewhere? It’s Scotch brand blue painter’s tape, and it’s special because it’s easily removable from just about any surface. As long as you don’t leave it on forever.

I needed a new roll of blue painter’s tape, and so today I picked one up today at Target. It was seven bucks, because I got the wide stuff. It is made in the U.S. of imported and domestic materials. Read the rest of this entry »

The first-ever MITUSA contest. Enter to win fabulous prizes. Really.

In Adventures on November 3, 2009 at 12:48 am

The birthday of my beloved betrothed is but six short weeks away. I have made it 10 months without the real sustained MITUSA gift-buying test I will face in December. I need your help.

I need to find a great gift. Something Made In The USA. Something amazing. Or at least Made In The USA. Read the rest of this entry »

Dave Sinclair Died

In Adventures on November 1, 2009 at 12:40 am

Dave Sinclair, the south county Ford dealer, St. Louis icon and “buy American” advocate about whom I’ve written in the past, twice actually, passed away in September. I learned about it belatedly, when I heard a commercial on the radio by one of Mr. Sinclair’s dealer sons. He was thanking the community for its support, not only at this difficult time for their family but for almost 50 years of car-buying history. It was one of those moments when you’re sad to learn of the death of someone you never met. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Birthday, Leah

In Adventures on October 30, 2009 at 12:29 am

For my birthday, my good friend Leah gave me a very nice, and thoughtfully MITUSA, gift. She wanted to honor my MITUSA goals so she gave me a book about Annie Leibovitz she found on my wishlist, as well as a gift certificate to Avalon Exchange, a vintage clothing store in the Delmar Loop. I used it to buy a pair of previously-loved shoes and a previously-loved button-down shirt. I was MITUSA all the way, thanks to the recycled nature of previously owned clothing. Read the rest of this entry »

F_ _ _ Water

In Adventures on October 28, 2009 at 12:05 am

Fill in the blank. F_ _ _ water.

If you guessed “FIJI” water, you’d be right.

Coincidentally, if you guessed the other F word, you’d also be right. Read the rest of this entry »

No-Impact Man

In Adventures on October 26, 2009 at 12:44 am

Now this guy is serious. Makes me look like a rank amateur. No-Impact Man spent a year making no environmental impact. He rode a bike. He bought local foods. He drank water out of a recycled peanut butter jar. He didn’t use toilet paper.

Ew. Read the rest of this entry »

Grocery Store Revelations

In Adventures on October 24, 2009 at 12:25 am

I went to the grocery store yesterday. I bought a few things and I didn’t buy another. These are their stories.

One thing I bought was Finish, formerly Electrasol, dishwasher detergent tablets. The Quantum kind. With Jet-Dry shine. And a Powerball built in. And other useless nonsensical names on the box. I knew I should double-check where the stuff comes from. But I didn’t. Not until it was too late. Read the rest of this entry »

Does it matter?

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

Does it matter if you buy American?

– If a product can be made “more efficiently” by another country’s less expensive workforce, why shouldn’t it be?

The ship has sailed. No amount of my buying American-made T-shirts is going to reverse the trend of making 99% of American-purchased T-shirts in foreign countries. The only way we’ll get those jobs back Read the rest of this entry »

“Please give us your sweatshops.”

In Adventures on October 20, 2009 at 12:10 am

I don’t particularly have an agenda. At least not an agenda that reaches beyond my own personal growth and that of mankind in general. So while I don’t particularly like Wal Mart, or what it represents, or what it’s done to our society, or what it feels like to shop there, or any number of things about the consumptive behemoth, I’m always up for interesting reading–even if it means reading a pro-Wal-Mart article such as this one. Read the rest of this entry »

American-made Blue Jeans

In Adventures on October 18, 2009 at 12:25 am

Blue Jeans are quintessentially American. Except that they’re probably not often Made in The USA.

These jeans, however, are. North Carolina, to be exact. And while I’ve only spent 72 hours in North Carolina, I liked those hours. And so I like that state. And so I deem these neat jeans. I’m guessing they’re not available in husky sizes for kids like me, but still–those of you who fit into normal clothes should consider buying some southern jeans. Read the rest of this entry »

Make your own cleaning supplies

In Adventures on October 16, 2009 at 12:12 am

1. I read about this in Craft magazine.
2. It comes from a company called The Purple Fig Cleaning Co. in Austin. The company not only will clean your house using all-natural cleaning agents, they hold parties (like Tupperware or BeautiControl or Pampered Chef) where they teach you how to clean and how to make your own all-natural cleaning agents.
3. The idea is that all-natural cleaning agents allow you to rely less on chemicals and big corporations to keep your house clean in a safe and natural and effective way. Read the rest of this entry »

B T Dubs re the Starbucks Coffee Pot o’ Death

In Adventures on October 14, 2009 at 12:33 am

I finally got around to calling the Starbucks hotline re: the CPSC recall of the eight-cup stainless steel Starbucks Barista coffee  maker I own and adore. While I sat on hold listening to big band music, I perused the original CPSC web site on which I found the original recall. I noted something: The recall is for the eight-cup stainless steel Starbucks Barista Aroma coffee maker. Read the rest of this entry »

A Capitalist Manifesto: Greed Is Good

In Adventures on October 12, 2009 at 12:06 am

I toted this Newsweek around for six weeks, knowing I’d desperately want to blog about it. So let me try to get out of my own, and its, way with a brief list of points.

– You should see it in print. The illustrations by Mark Wagner are gorgeous. (Magazines are still way cooler than screens.)

– Fareed Zakaria is a really smart guy. Read the rest of this entry »

Barack Obama on Buying American

In Adventures on October 10, 2009 at 12:55 am

“The fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America’s future.”

How did I miss this? Read the rest of this entry »