Made In The U.S.A.

Posts Tagged ‘buy local’

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 »

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 »

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 »

Save An American Job

In Adventures on October 8, 2009 at 12:45 am

Save an American job at

To do this, the site suggests that you look for the MITUSA tag and buy it when possible. I’ve been doing that, as you’ve noticed, but I’m still not convinced I’m saving jobs. I’m probably not hurting them, though. Right? Read the rest of this entry »

Waste Not Paper

In Adventures on October 4, 2009 at 12:33 am

I’m toying with the idea of making our wedding invitations. To that end, I recently investigated the paper options available from my favorite paper/art purveyor, and it turns out the supplies I’ve been buying for my homemade holiday cards for years have been, albeit inadvertently, MITUSA. I’ve been buying cards, paper and envelopes from a producer called Waste Not Paper. They’re in Chicago. So they’re almost even local. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Soda

In Adventures on September 12, 2009 at 12:10 am

A few years ago I learned about a local soda pop. It’s famous in Clinton County, Illinois–only a few short miles east of my hometown, but far enough away that I’d made it 30-plus years on this planet without ever hearing about it. Next thing you know, I’m seeing the stuff everywhere. In Clinton County, soda machines always have Ski. It’s a thing there. Really. Like Coke or Pepsi, but Ski. Read the rest of this entry »

Area Man Buys Local Food

In Adventures on August 11, 2009 at 12:23 am

I went to visit my parents this evening (read: I went to their house to go fishing) and did my weekly grocery shopping afterward. In Illinois. At a different Schnucks than I’m used to. (For those of you not in the St. Louis metro area, Schnucks is a grocery store. The L.A. equivalent would be Vons. The Chicago equivalent would be Jewel. I have no idea what it is on the East Coast. Maybe Kroger.) The Schnucks on the west end of Belleville, near the Skyview Drive-In, had an end-cap in the vegetable department with “Locally Grown” options. The farm was even listed. There were green peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers. So I stocked up. My Schnucks, in the ‘hood, doesn’t do that. I was glad that enough people must want to buy locally that they decided to promote it somewhat prominently. Warm fuzzies and whatnot.


The Delocator

In Adventures on August 2, 2009 at 12:40 am

I’m conflicted about this, because on the one hand I really want to support local businesses in every aspect of my consumer life. But on the other hand, I really like my venti iced coffee with three Splendas and half-and-half.

The Delocator is a web site you can use to find local business alternatives to corporate empire outposts in your area. Read the rest of this entry »

The Toll of Wine

In Adventures on June 7, 2009 at 12:02 am

I read an article at National Geographic last month that I made note of specifically for the purposes of returning to it and blogging about it. It was called “The Toll of Wine”–at least, that’s what I called it in my notes. And this was the link:

That link now goes nowhere.

As I recall, it was about the carbon footprint of transporting a bottle of wine from where it was grown–say France or Napa or Argentina–to the dining table in your home. Read the rest of this entry »

Made in Missouri at the Mall

In Adventures on May 6, 2009 at 12:21 am

Every time I go to the mall, I stand around looking at tags on things I can’t buy.

Shelley and I went to the Mills Mall this weekend, and I got tired of standing around looking at tags on things I can’t buy. (I did discover a shirt in the Old Navy outlet that was made in Lesotho. I don’t know where that is, but now I’m intrigued.) So I went into the Missouri Mercantile store. The store is run by Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make an American Fence.

In Adventures on April 16, 2009 at 12:52 am

If you write a blog about trying to buy American-made stuff, you’re bound to write about specific corporate entities. For good or bad. The interesting thing I’ve found is that these corporate entities are aware of it. Even at a small scale. They have people. Most of the posts I’ve written about any named retail entity have resulted in comment from said entity. Or at least a visit and a “hi, howyadoin” 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Coffee drama. Yet again.

In Adventures on February 26, 2009 at 12:19 am

This week’s addition to the coffeegate conundrum comes by way of a local coffee roaster. I bought a pound of Kaldi’s Certified Organic Fair Trade French Roast ground coffee. I did this because:

a) It’s locally roasted, i.e. “made”, in St. Louis Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Dan and Crystal…

In Adventures on February 23, 2009 at 6:33 am

What would I do without Dan and Crystal? They are my friends, they are my shopping/buying/consuming resources, they are my blog’s primary readership… They’re probably my only readership. I should write this post directly to them. In fact, I think I will.

Hi Dan and Crystal. Remember when you sent me this email the other day: Read the rest of this entry »

What happens in BelleVegas…

In Resources on February 12, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Dan followed up our flower exchange by pointing out several actually-Belleville-made items that one can shop for in person or via the Internets:

Sole Survivor – Leather goods. “Sole Survivor Leather manufactures leather belts, and small goods, owns and operates four e-commerce stores, and one retail storefront in downtown Belleville, IL” Read the rest of this entry »

Fresh local flowers. If you’re from 2551 miles south of here.

In Adventures on February 11, 2009 at 8:47 pm

My good friend Dan forwarded an email to me today. The subject was, “Buy Quality. Buy Local.” It was from the St. Louis Florists Network, and it suggested that with Valentine’s Day fast approaching I should “Go MidAmerica fresh this Valentine’s Day for the freshest, longest-lasting flowers.” I immediately Read the rest of this entry »

Good, but Spicy

In Edibles on February 3, 2009 at 6:02 am

Read the rest of this entry »

Coffeegate Continues

In Edibles on January 30, 2009 at 6:06 am

1.14.09: My good friend Dan, always looking out for my best interests, has thrown a wonderfully awful wrench in my coffee buying plans. He emailed today with a coupon from his local coffee house (The Oregon Trail Roasting Company over in Belleville, not too far at all) for $5 off Kona coffee. Better yet, the coffee is roasted right there in Bellevegas. On Main Street. Locally.

Last month we introduced you to our exclusive Kona coffee from Hawaii. It is the only coffee grown in the United States. We get our beans from Kona Earth, a small coffee farm located on the tropical slopes of the Hualalai volcano in the famous Kona coffee district on the Big Island of Hawaii. The high mountain “mauka” climate allows their Arabica trees to grow lush and the coffee to ripen slowly, creating beans of remarkable size and flavor. This Estate-grown 100% Kona coffee is controlled by Kona Earth from beginning to end to ensure the best possible quality. The coffee is hand picked, sun dried and pesticide free. It is never mixed with lower grade coffees such as Kona Blend (don’t be fooled by cheap prices—it usually means only a small percent of Kona.)

So it’s grown in the USA and roasted in my hometown. I think I have to buy it.

I wonder if they accept Starbucks gift cards?


Coffee with a Conscience

In Adventures on January 25, 2009 at 9:52 am

Last night I hit the Oregon Trail. It was difficult. I didn’t love it. Many died.

My hopes and dreams for buying locally-made American coffee died.

The Oregon Trail Roasting Co. you may recall is the local coffee roaster in Belleville—my hometown a mere 20 miles from where I sit. Not only is the coffee they sell locally made, but they offer a 100% Kona coffee. That’s a bean grown in Hawaii, delivered to Belleville and roasted here. In terms of coffee, buying a locally roasted Kona is about as American as you’re gonna get.

So I made a special trip to go get some.

Of course, the bedredlocked young skinny man behind the counter was unaware and apparently unconcerned if they had any Kona beans. “I guess we don’t have any roasted up right now.” He was also unaware what it cost or if/when they would have it again. The look in his eyes said, “They don’t tell me much.” So I stopped asking too much.

I think the only appropriate fix is to email them and ask if they’ll hold some for me. Or I can ask Dan and Crystal (who live in Belleville) if they’ll keep an eye out for Kona when they’re in there.

So no Kona for me. But it again got me thinking: what constitutes MITUSA coffee? If I apply the same standards as I do for shampoo and clothing, it’s “made” in the states even if it comes from imported parts (or beans). So even Starbucks coffee, assuming that it’s roasted on these shores, passes muster.

And yet…

There’s so much more responsible consumerism that can be done with coffee. Based on that, it seems that my obligation is to aspire to the most liberal American coffee I can find. That coffee would be:

Grown in America – Hawaiian Kona
Roasted locally – At Oregon Trail or any number of other local roasters

The problem with buying Kona is that it’s difficult. The grocery store sells a Kona blend (10%, and mixed with coffee from who knows where produced who knows how) and my Starbucks doesn’t stock it. I appear to be at the mercy of local roasters who choose to offer the expensive bean. Or don’t. Failing that availability of a very specific American bean, the ideal coffee would be:

Grown as close to America as possible. Maybe Mexico? (Canada’s coffee output is surprisingly low.)
Shade-grown. These coffees grow slower in the shade of a canopy of trees. Many coffee farms increase output with sun-grown coffee. That is accomplished by deforestation to thin out the trees. This has negative effects on the surrounding flora and fauna—specifically the birds who are disappearing because of it.
Organic. Just like organic tomatoes or lettuce, organic coffee is produced without use of pesticides and other nasty chemicals.
Fair Trade. This is the biggen. Fair Trade coffee beans are purchased at a “fair” price; i.e. not the bottom dollar price that has presumably been paid to poor coffee growers in third world countries for generations. In exchange for this fair price, growers are encouraged to operate in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.

So, no Kona at Oregon Trail. But they did have others. So I bought one: A Mexican-grown, Belleville-roasted, shade-grown, organic, Fair Trade coffee. And I’m drinking it now, and it tastes good.

Even if it’s not 100% MITUSA, it feels good to consume coffee with a conscience.


Fair Shares

In Edibles on January 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Dan and Crystal do this. They pay $50 per week and pick up a bag of locally grown/made/harvested/roasted groceries. They’re good people.

Fair Shares is a non-profit organization dedicated to getting fresh, local, seasonal food into the hands of more St. Louisans–regardless of their income. We think it’s important to know the origin of your food–who grew it and where. With all the horrifying Read the rest of this entry »

Refill your Uh Oh, mister?

In Edibles on January 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

1.4.09: Uh oh.

I found a list of American Made Coffees.

They include: Bad Ass Coffee, USA Coffee Company and various other Hawaiian-grown coffee companies. I guess that means I have to start buying American-made coffee and not Starbucks’ nectar of the gods. Read the rest of this entry »

Foreign and Green or Domestic and Consumptive? Discuss.

In Adventures on January 18, 2009 at 10:00 am

1.4.09: I received a Pottery Barn catalog in the mail yesterday and it occurred to me that I may no longer be able to buy stuff from them. Catalogs and online shopping will likely be off limits, because if I can’t tell where the stuff’s from, which it’s harder to do in catalogs, I’ll have to pass.

That’s a shame, because Pottery Barn has some really nice sales.

Their catalog also reflects a trend I’ve found increasingly over the last few days: everybody’s advertising their proud commitment to the green movement, no matter where the products are made. Before the New Year, I bought some stuff from Arhaus furniture and was provided a 100% Jute “green bag” to carry my purchases. The tag read, “100% Jute. Made in India.” That raises another great question: better to be foreign and green or domestic and consumptive? Perhaps no matter how green a jute bag may be, if it was shipped all the way from India it maybe isn’t as green as it hopes.

I suppose that’s the big reason to buy local; it’s greener.


Fast Food and Beer

In Edibles on January 17, 2009 at 12:19 am

I bought food and drink like crazy today. Breakfast at Hardee’s, where I was doing a charity shoot (and apparently I was on the noon news on channel 4 hob-nobbing with a TV weather guy and the St. Louis County Executive) which was actually donated by the company. Then lunch at Dickey’s, where I had barbecue and iced tea (unsweet, of course). Dinner was drive-thru (on the way to a trivia night event, which we won partly because I knew that the answer to the universe was 42) and I can say unequivocally that the Burger King parking lot smells flame grilled and I like that. Bought some beers at the event, too, which were Anheuser Busch-Inbev products, presumably locally brewed by the world’s biggest brewer. (Is that still considered buying local?) I feel like I technically succeeded in buying American, but the megacorporations tied up in everything I ate and drank today makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. That, or the fast food and beer is backing up on me.


Etsy: A Craft Fair on the Internet

In Retailers on January 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm


I bought some post-Christmas gifts today, and decided that Etsy would be the perfect place to shop. Not for any altruistic homegrown reason, but because I was looking for unique handmade gifts. Sure enough, I found the perfect wallet and coin purse that I was looking for (not for me, I should point out. Remember: they’re gifts. Shhh.) and the price was right and I’m buying local. Chicago, to be exact, which I’d say is pretty darn local.

Etsy is like a craft fair on the Internet. It’s the Amazon of indy handyfolks. Makers of stuff—clothes, crafts, photographs, painting, whatever—sign up with the site and list their items for sale. Whether they make one or one thousand, Etsy simply offers one place in the virtual world where simple sellers can sell simply to buyers. Etsy of course takes a cut from the seller, but for the buyer it’s like making any other online purchase.

Not all of Etsy’s vendors are local; some more than others. But still, to have access to even the option of  buying locally produced stuff… Great! (A complaint about Etsy on Wikipedia actually cites the site for being “too United States centric.” That might stink for the rest of the world, but for us in the US who can’t seem to get anything homemade, it’s excellent.)

Vaguely interesting postscript: Nobody seems to know why the site is called “Etsy” or what exactly the name might mean. There’s an interesting article here at The Name Inspector.