Made In The U.S.A.

Posts Tagged ‘made in the usa’

Another American-Made Mens Suit

In Adventures on October 6, 2009 at 12:45 am

I learned today, somewhat embarrassingly, that there is another American-made mens suit. I was informed as much by the salesman at Macy’s who looked at me cross-eyed when I told him that Joseph Abboud was the only major American suit manufacturer. Turns out, according to the “Union-made in the USA” tag inside the random Hart Schaffner Marx suit he pulled off the rack, there’s another. Read the rest of this entry »

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Steel and Cars

In Adventures on June 29, 2009 at 12:05 am

It didn’t occur to me before the steel convention just how much American steel producers are connected to American auto producers. But of course. It only makes perfect sense.

During the convention, a lot was made about the ailing American auto manufacturers. GM and Chrysler and Ford, the “big three” automakers, aren’t exactly having a great year. Two of ’em are bankrupt. The third is Ford, so that’s not much better. Read the rest of this entry »

Now my dogs will always have water.

In Adventures on June 22, 2009 at 12:45 am

While perusing the grocery store’s dog food aisle for various treats, before ending up with the same bag of American-made rawhide chews I always get, I discovered a stash of automatic water dispensers for pets. I like to drink water, and I assume my dogs do too, so I’m always on the lookout for things like this. Trouble is, they’re always expensive and usually made in China. This one, however, was eight bucks and stamped proudly Made In The USA. Read the rest of this entry »

Guacamole Hallelujah

In Adventures on June 21, 2009 at 12:36 am

At the grocery store today I did the same ritual as always: I stopped by the avocado stand to fondle the fruits.

This time, though, for the first time in six months, mingled in with all the Mexican avocados, was a different beast: an organic avocado, stamped USA.

Hallelujah! Read the rest of this entry »

Diamonds, pt. 3

In Adventures on June 20, 2009 at 12:45 am

You’ve done your research and discovered that while you can’t buy an American-made diamond, you can buy a diamond with a conscience. So far so good.

So you head off to a local jeweler and look for rings that don’t incorporate blood diamonds. Things go downhill quickly from there.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I focused my attention in this process on the center diamond, the solitaire, in Shelley’s ring. I quickly learned that it was very difficult to determine where rings were actually made Read the rest of this entry »

So you wanna buy a diamond.

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2009 at 12:31 am

So you wanna buy a diamond. Be prepared. It’s not easy.

It hits you somewhere around a month or two into your year-long buying-American adventure: damn. I want to buy a diamond.

Diamonds aren’t really MITUSA. Let’s just get that right out in the open. Technically some come from Arkansas, but we’re talking the occasional random diamond Read the rest of this entry »

Eat local. Before it’s too late.

In Adventures on June 6, 2009 at 12:12 am

Time magazine recently did a nice little story about the changing landscape of American food.

WPA files from the first half of the 20th century show that all sorts of regional food has disappeared, according to a new book by Mark Kurlansky that delves into the disappearance. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things… The last part.

In Adventures on May 29, 2009 at 12:58 am

Last year I also bought:

8. Paint. Lots and lots of paint. Behr, the house brand at Home Depot, appears to be made in California. That’s where I used to get all my paint; not California, but the Depot. When I painted this house, however, I went to Paint Supply on South Grand. They suggested some companies I’d never heard of, but they ended up being really nice to paint with–and they cost about a third of the price of the Home Depot paints. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things… Parts 5, 6 and 7.

In Adventures on May 28, 2009 at 12:57 am

Last year I also bought:

5. Picture frames. FrameUSA touts 100% American-made picture frames. You can even look in on the workshop. I get that they’re assembled in Ohio, but are they importing the frame blanks from China? That’s the problem I’m having at every framery I can find. Nobody seems to indicate where the materials come from. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things I bought last year… Parts 3 and 4.

In Adventures on May 27, 2009 at 12:54 am

Last year I also bought:

3. A cool white coffee table that looks like a folded piece of futuristic something or other. It’s nice, really. I got it from the same place I got the couch, but about nine months later. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things I bought last year that I’d have a helluva time trying to buy this year. Part 2.

In Adventures on May 26, 2009 at 12:49 am

Last year, I also bought:

2. A big ol’ flat-screen LCD TV that screams “I’m a shallow person who doesn’t read.” I do read, but I also need my Seinfeld reruns.

It’s a Sony. I’m guessing it’s from somewhere definitely not near my house. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten things I bought last year that I’d have a helluva time trying to buy this year. Part 1.

In Adventures on May 25, 2009 at 12:21 am

I bought a house in 2007. Labor day I moved in. I unpacked for a couple of months. Then I spent most of 2008 furnishing and finishing the bulk of the place. It’s by no means “finished,” but I am sitting on a couch with my feet on a coffee table and I’m watching a TV.

Essentially, I dodged a huge bullet. A flurry of gunfire, really. I bought a whole ton of stuff when I wasn’t concerning myself from whence it came. Read the rest of this entry »

MITUSA Certification

In Adventures on May 17, 2009 at 12:47 am

Yes, it’s true. There is a certification for Made In The USA products. It’s called USA-C.

While I have absolutely nothing to do with it, I’m going to claim responsibility for this company’s certification process.

To be clear, I have no reasonable right to do so. But still. I called it. Read the rest of this entry »

Made In USA News

In Resources on May 16, 2009 at 12:41 am

There is a web site that aggregates pertinent news to people who are interested in things Made In The USA. It is called Made In USA News.

It may not be the most dynamic site you ever saw, but see it soon and you’ll see that there’s things to see there. See?

Sorry. I’m tired. Read the rest of this entry »

Lawn Mowers

In Adventures on May 14, 2009 at 12:13 am

As I was mowing the lawn tonight I looked down and noticed that my Craftsman lawnmower was Made In The USA. Neat.

I bought it used last year, so I wasn’t particularly concerned at the time, although I was happy to buy a perfectly functional beater mower to cut my postage-stamp sized lawn. Read the rest of this entry »

Jiffy Steamer

In Adventures on May 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

One of the side effects of paying attention to where everything comes from is that you’re occasionally pleasantly surprised by the things that are Made in The USA.

I borrowed a steamer from my stylist, Whitney, to steam the wrinkles out of a pair of giant muslin backgrounds for a photo shoot. (It’s for a client who, I have to say, has a pretty unrealistic expectation. But I guess “client” and “unrealistic expectation” sort of goes without saying.) Read the rest of this entry »

Cabela’s

In Adventures on May 9, 2009 at 12:33 am

Cabela’s is the “world’s foremost outfitter” of things for hunting and fishing. I don’t hunt, but I sure like to fish.

I’m going fishing this weekend with Henry. Sorry mom. I’ll be late for Mother’s Day. In fact, I’m writing this post early. As you’re reading it, I’ll be fishing.

Wish me luck, because it’s a fishing tournament. Think of it like a big bike race, but with camoflauge and spitting. (I’ve never understood why so many Read the rest of this entry »

The other time when it’s good to buy imported goods.

In Adventures on April 29, 2009 at 12:47 am

Comparative Advantage.

My mom just told me about this. (If you’re a photography major, you can get through college without classes on useful things like economics and science.)

Comparative Advantage is the economics principle that says, at least as I understand it, trade can be beneficial to both countries involved. Read the rest of this entry »

Oakleys are MITUSA (mostly)

In Resources on April 7, 2009 at 12:49 am

Did you know that Oakley sunglasses are Made In The USA? Apparently not all of them are made in the company’s SoCal headquarters, but most of them are.

Everything we design, we design here. And most innovations we produce are produced here.

Cool.

But check the labels just to be sure.

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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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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.

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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 »

Thank you, and here’s my address.

In Adventures on February 24, 2009 at 6:20 am

I heard a new Dave Sinclair ad on the radio today. He’s the “South County Ford Dealer” who for the last year or so has started broadcasting commercials stressing the importance of buying American-made cars. He generally supports the American worker because, as he points out, he can’t sell cars to people who don’t have jobs. Good point, Dave. Read the rest of this entry »

My funky underpants volume goes to 11.

In Adventures on February 22, 2009 at 6:51 am

I was folding my laundry when it occurred to me: I wonder where my underpants are made?

I quickly formed a hypothesis: If you’re an American man and you wear underwear, you’re probably not wearing American-made underwear. I base this assumption on a couple of other assumptions. Read the rest of this entry »

Who needs a 7 button?

In Adventures on February 9, 2009 at 6:11 am

Panic.

The 7 button on my cell phone sticks. It either doesn’t click or it clicks twice. I’ve been holding on to this phone for as long as possible. It’s probably 2-plus years old. I don’t want a camera, or a fax machine, or a color screen, or anything else. I want to make calls that are clear and don’t get dropped. My phone is Read the rest of this entry »

Q-Tippery

In Adventures on February 6, 2009 at 6:00 am

1.21.09: I bought necessities today. Q-Tips, which are definite necessities if you, like me, absolutely must stick them in your ears after every shower. I don’t know if I’ve had a single shower in the last decade that hasn’t been followed by a good Q-Tipping. And not just any old brand. I need Q-Tips brand Q-Tips Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Grocery Shopping Update

In Adventures on February 4, 2009 at 6:09 am

1.18.09: Other than forgetting to bring in my reusable shopping bags, today’s shopping trip wasn’t too bad. A little pricey–$125 for what felt like less than $100 worth of food, but I can’t complain given my diet and MITUSA restrictions. Interesting items today included: 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 »

Faked In The USA

In Resources on February 2, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Read the rest of this entry »

This blog post is brought to you by vodka.

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2009 at 11:21 pm

If you have a few vodka tonics at Mangia Italiania with good friends you haven’t seen in a long time, you might forget to ask which kind is Made In The USA. So you get Absolut, which everybody knows is made in Sweden. So when you get home you might search the interwebs to find an American-made option and discover that, aside from Popov and some other less-than-tasty-sounding vodkas, Smirnoff is your best bet for MITUSA vodka. Also, depending on how much vodka you have, you might write strange third-personish blog posts.

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There are no more luxuries.

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2009 at 6:20 am

1.14.09: I mentioned the locally roasted Kona coffee to friend/coworker Leah and she asked about cost. I don’t know the cost, but any time the coupon is for $5 off you know it’s not going to be cheap. Then she said this:

“That’s the problem, right? You can’t buy American unless you’re rich.”

I started to tell her no, but then we were interrupted and didn’t get to finish. How would I have continued that sentence?

I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks, but I don’t think you have to be rich to buy American-made goods. Maybe when it comes to some things (suits, perhaps, or boutique audio and video equipment or furniture…) but for the most part, it’s just another alternative to imported goods.

I think the difference is that things that non-rich people used to afford, and then take care of and make last and whatnot, are now available in way less expensive versions from China. So now people who couldn’t necessarily buy them before can buy them now, so they no longer seem like luxuries or privileges.

I think it’s the same idea Michael Pollen says about steak. Fifty years ago Americans ate steak for special occasions; now the process and the product has been commoditized and we can choose from a dozen different discount strip mall steaks for dinner every night of the week and never eat the same steak twice. Suddenly a luxury became the standard; we’re all entitled to as much affordable steak as we’d like. Sounds great, except now we’re all fat and dying and unused to the idea of wanting anything.

When certain “durable” goods get so inexpensive, it’s easy for people to fritter away their money by buying and rebuying stuff that they don’t really need or want that much. At least, that’s my take so far.

I don’t necessarily think that regular consumption of American stuff requires wealth, but certainly some MITUSA options are limited and the manufacturers have found a boutique or high end niche for their brand (Joseph Abboud suits, Allan Edmonds shoes, etc). The nice part is these presumably better made, higher quality goods should last longer and essentially become a better long term value. Or even if they don’t last longer inherently, perhaps we’re more likely to take better care of goods we have to stretch to afford.

I also understand that if you’re struggling you’re more likely to look for a better deal on everything you buy. And you should. And I don’t begrudge anyone that option. But as someone who isn’t struggling that much (at the moment; knock wood; fingers crossed), it kind of seems like my obligation to be a smarter consumer and work a bit harder at it.

Wal Mart is a great place for people who need to stretch every dollar, but there are other “costs” associated with shopping there. I’m sure I’ll get into them at some point when I finally venture into that great blue building filled with American dreams. But until then, all I know is I feel slightly sick and angry when I see Audis and Beemers and Lexi parked in the Wal Mart lot. It’s offensive on so many levels.

Then again, maybe that’s how they can afford their fancy imports: by buying discounted stuff whenever they can. I guess they’re being deliberate consumers as well. Maybe just not in the same way I do it.

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I only buy music from Kentucky and North Carolina.

In Adventures on January 29, 2009 at 9:26 am

1.13.09: Bought some iTunes today. Technically the money changed hands way back pre-Christmas, because I received a gift card from Shelley’s sister. Last week I bought a record via iTunes (the Avett Brothers, banjo punk from North Carolina—and insanely great) and it didn’t occur to me that it counts as consumption. I did the same thing today, with an EP from My Morning Jacket (live at The Palms; it’s self indulgent and you can probably skip it. Sorry “greatest rock band in America today.”). That’s when it occurred to me that I’m buying and consuming all the time. Even when I’m just downloading digital files from the largest music retailer in the world and not transacting any physical stuff.

I guess if you’re buying files from iTunes they’d have to be considered Made In The USA. But since really, you’re not buying files but music, where’s the music made? (If I was physically buying a CD, I think I’d have to defer to the locale in which the disk was pressed.) I can’t check the liner notes to see the studios in which they were recorded since I’m just buying files. In fact, I’m not buying anything; I’m licensing music. Like renting, sort of.

Maybe it should be where the band was made. For the Avett Brothers and My Morning Jacket, it’s North Carolina and Kentucky, respectively. You don’t get any more American than North Carolina and Kentucky in my book.

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MITUSA: Made In The USA or Patented Sex Technique?

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I just learned (thanks, SF Guardian!) that the abbreviation I’ve been using for “Made in the USA” is also the name of a proprietary oral sex technique. Not kidding.

Maybe it’ll catch on and I’ll get more MITUSA hits.

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The Taming of the Squash

In Adventures on January 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

“The sea’s in my veins, my tradition remains, the son of a son of a sailor.”
–Jimmy Buffet

I come from a family of sailors. Like my grandfather and great uncle long ago, my father seems to have seawater coursing through his veins. His father was a lifelong sailor, in the Navy and the merchant marine. My grandfather’s brother was a lifelong sailor in the merchant marine alone because, like me, he had flat feet that kept him out of the service. Still: they both sailed the world for most of their lives.

My father’s father and uncle, Eugene and George, shared more than the sea. They shared a house; a big beautiful house because they apparently pay well in the merchant marine and there’s nowhere to spend your dough when you’re six months at sea. While my grandfather was relatively mature, his brother, George, was a big kid. I think that’s how I got my mischievous streak. Imagine a 15-year-old with a big allowance and no wife or kids to spend it on. He had a huge in-ground swimming pool, a convertible black and white Cadillac he called “The Puddy Tat,” a pair of lava lamps, a house filled with big black velvet paintings (some nude), the first big-screen TV I ever saw, the first remote control I ever used, the first VCR I ever played a movie on, and a closet full of hundreds of recordings—first films on 8 and 16mm from his adventures at home and at sea and then every movie that ever came on TV recorded on his brand new state-of-the-art pop-top Fischer VCR. He ate pickled herring and drank rusty nails. The basement bar was fully stocked, and the only thing in it that entertained me as a kid was the hope that the rum-filled chocolates wouldn’t actually be rum-filled, and the ceramic pitcher shaped exactly like a woman’s breast. The point is, he liked to have a good time.

I tell you that story to tell you this one: the brothers, my great uncle and grandfather, had a vacation getaway at Lake of the Ozarks. Next door to the house was a little cottage: two bedrooms and a half bath. The cottage wall, however, was the greatest I’ve ever seen. Probably eight feet high and twelve feet wide, it was covered with the largest map of the world I’d  ever seen as a 10-year-old. I can’t recall a bigger one, even today. Covering this yellowed and aging old world map were dozens, probably hundreds, of red and gold stars. Those stars, simply, represented all the ports around the globe that my grandfather and great uncle had visited. Shanghai to San Francisco, Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope. They had been everywhere. And I had only been a few hours away, far enough to get to the lake house, to look at the map that proved they had seen it all and done it all before, as sailors.

My parents are sailors now too. As I write huddled inside against the snow, they float on a Princess Cruise ship somewhere much warmer than here. They do this several times a year. Right about now, I’d have to guess that they’re nearing the Panama canal because they’ve been gone a week. Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, one way, via Panama and the Caribbean and probably laid prone on their backs for most of the journey. I’m guessing it’s not how my other ancestors did it; more than likely they spent most of their time in dirty engine rooms and cramped bunks. But still: the family sailing tradition continues.

I tell you that story to tell you this one: before my parents left, they suggested I water the plants and eat their food before it spoils. Upon visiting last Saturday for just that purpose, I discovered that the Acorn Squash in their vegetable drawer was beginning to get soft. I snatched it up and added it to the haul, dubious but willing to try it nonetheless.

Sunday night rolled around and I was hungry. Made my dinner and decided to add the squash to the mix. It even came with a handy sticker on the side that explained how to prepare it: poke holes in it with a sharp knife, microwave for 7 minutes, let stand for 5, cut in half, remove seeds, add butter and salt and sugar and pepper. Eat.

I did that. It was heavenly. I am now hooked on buttery sugary salty peppery acorn squashes.

I tell you that story to tell you this one: tonight at the grocery store I made a bee-line for the squash department. Acorn, spaghetti, butternut… I wasn’t going to be picky. Sure enough, they had all three varieties. All with helpful stickers that probably contained cooking instructions involving butter and sugar and pepper and salt. All definitely with stickers that read the same: Product of Mexico.

I tell you all those stories to tell you this one: I am hungry. I want squash. I can’t buy it because it’s not Made In The USA.

Damn.

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Brie and Avocados

In Adventures on January 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

1.11.09: I went to the grocery store today. Not some fancy Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Just the plain old local chain. I spent $108 on about $90 worth of food, but I can’t complain too much. In all, it was an enlightening and relatively effortless experience. It did seem to take a little longer than usual, though. Here’s what I learned:

Most of the produce I buy is MITUSA. Celery stamped “Product of USA.” Red Onions with stickers from Idaho and Colorado. Tomatoes and salad lettuce, both domestic. The only casualty? Avocados. The two available options were imported from Mexico. I may have to look to the fancy suppliers for California or Floriada guacs. (My mom tells the story of a waitress once talking up an appetizer: “It’s made from fresh guacamoles!”)

I did have frozen shrimp in my cart, and “ten for $10” salmon fillets too. Then it occurred to me: I forgot to check them! Sure enough the shrimp was from Thailand. The discount fish? China.

I found the American-made fillets. Wild Alaskan Salmon, actually. Several options were available. All were about $4 each. Ouch. I still got a couple of them.

The biggest heartbreaker? Aside from the avocados, it would have to be the cheese. I’m a sucker for good cheese: brie, Gouda, Roquefort, et al. Especially aged Gouda, which goes directly from tasty on the tongue to nourishing for the soul. It is, of course, made in Holland. Ugh.

There were a few items of unverifiable origin that I’ll have to research. Peanut butter (several brands checked, none indicated an origin), whipped cream (ditto), Jell-O (it didn’t say), fresh mozzerella (ditto) and Emerald nuts (ditto). Let’s see…

Emerald Nuts? Can’t figure it out, even at Amazon. (They really should list origins.)
Jell-O? Dover, Delaware!
Mozzerella Fresca? MITUSA! (I can’t figure out exactly where, but it’s won awards for “American Made” cheese.)
Cabot Whipped Cream? It’s a Vermont collective of dairy farmers and it even has the state in its logo. It sure appears to be MITUSA, but I haven’t seen those magic words yet.
Peanut Butter? The two major players, Jif and Peter Pan, are made in KY and GA. I assume the store brand I get is made indirectly by them or someone else nearby.

If only I could find some brie and avocados…

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You crazy, Kona. You crazy.

In Edibles on January 25, 2009 at 10:21 am

You have got to be kidding me.

You cannot buy American-grown locally roasted coffee unless you are rich. Period.

We have our first MITUSA casualty. It is coffee. I am sad.

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expensive kona

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.

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A Kona Crack wakeup call

In Adventures on January 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm

1.5.09: What a Monday.

Yet again, I expected to report that I bought nothing aside from lunch (a Hardee’s low-carb burger that, checking online beforehand, I learned was 100% Angus Beef and therefore, presumably, MITUSA—even though I’ve no intention of ensuring every restaurant meal I ingest is of American products all the way through, I am at least remaining aware out of curiosity) but in fact I stopped at Schnucks Read the rest of this entry »

What it says on the New Balance tag

In Stuff on January 20, 2009 at 1:16 pm

New Balance: A commitment to U.S. manufacturing.

Many of our shoes are produced in one of six United States factories. While most of the footwear industry has moved its production overseas to take advantage of low labor costs and generally cheaper production costs, we continue to have many of our shoes made in the United States Read the rest of this entry »

How to buy American-made shoes

In Adventures on January 19, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Today was a rousing purchasing success. I bought a tank of gasoline on the way home from work. While I was waiting for the superslow pump, I considered ducking into the station to get out of the cold and to pick up a snack. Then I thought about sifting through the available foods and having to read small print and possibly seeing something that I wanted but that didn’t work with my diet or MITUSA 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 »

Still Made In The USA

In Resources on January 17, 2009 at 11:25 am

1.2.09: I found a site that lists where to buy MITUSA stuff.  It not only lists why it’s good to buy American-made products, but it includes a large directory of them as well. I learned it is possible to buy American-made suits: Joseph Abboud at Nordstrom. Woohoo!

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How difficult is this gonna be?

In Stuff on January 14, 2009 at 10:17 am

12.31.08

Just out of curiosity I’ve been ramping up my awareness for the new year. Today in the shower I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Tilex spray I use daily to keep the shower clean is proud to be made in the USA. I vaguely recall seeing “Made in Missouri” banners on household cleaning supply displays at Schnucks (the grocery store where I make most of my edible purchases), so maybe with that stuff it’ll be easier than expected.

But in terms of food: am I screwed? I was spooning peanut butter into Hazel and Myra’s Kongs this morning (Kongs are semi-indestructible chew toys for dogs; I wonder where they are made?) and I decided to check the back of the Schnucks brand peanut butter for evidence. While it did warn me in big bold letters that the contents contain, horror of horrors, PEANUTS… It did not mention remotely where they’re from, or even where the PB was made, or even packaged. I have no idea what to think, except to assume that peanut butter can’t come from that far away, can it?

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A little bit of Bangladesh, right here at home.

In Stuff on January 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm

12.27.08

Christmas was lovely this year. My girlfriend and parents came over in the morning and we opened gifts and ate pastry and my dad ran through a whole 8 cups of coffee by noon.

Plus, I got good stuff.

Among the lovely things my mother gave me was a basket. It was simple, and perfect for toting a baking dish or just using as a table centerpiece. I noticed the tag prominently read “Made in Bangladesh.” I commented on it because a little bit of Bangladesh—a country I couldn’t find on a map if I tried—had woven its way into my family Christmas.

A few minutes later, as I opened a box to reveal a nice Izod checked shirt, the first thing I noticed was the tag: Made in Bangladesh. What were the chances!

As it turns out, the chances are actually quite good. I once noticed that the tags on my Gap and Banana Republic and Target shirts all seemed to be from exotic locales—Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China… These brands seem so uniquely American, so it’s hard to picture the bulk of their products—to the layperson, anyway—originating from parts of the globe I can only imagine. I can also only imagine the conditions in which my clothing is made. But I suppose as I do when it comes to food origins, I generally prefer not to think too hard about it.

But the thought nagged. Putting the question of whether or not my parents and I need to exchange quantities of stuff annually to show our love for one another aside, can it be remotely healthy for all of that stuff to come from everywhere but the US of A? I haven’t been living under a log so I don’t pretend to be surprised that stuff is made in China and other cheap-labor locales. But I’m no expert this stuff, and I’m probably a pretty average American in terms of informed vs. uninformed, and I never really realized that pretty much everything we buy is from somewhere far, far away.

So I decided then and there that in the coming new year I’d make a second resolution. In addition to the standard goal of losing mass quantities of weight, I decided that I won’t buy anything that isn’t Made In The USA. I only hope it’s easier than laying off the Oreos.

Because really, is buying Bangladeshi-made shirts really any better than buying Chinese-made shirts? I doubt it. So maybe, just to see, I’ll try to buy only made in the USA for a year. Can it possibly work? Who knows. But at least, if nothing else, through paying close attention to the origins of what I buy, I won’t be blindsided by my consumption again. And maybe I’ll become a more informed consumer, then a smarter consumer, and eventually a consumer of less stuff.

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MITUSA?