Monday, September 27, 2010


Lorena of My Everyday Wear did a fascinating post  today about eating a using local products avoiding products made in  China. My instant reaction and comment was I didn't know if I could. I  live in an area with what feels like 7 months of winter. I couldn't get  the idea out of my head. Then I remembered a few semesters ago Dave took  an entire class on being a Locavore.

From wikipedia
The locavore movement is a movement in the United States and  elsewhere that spawned as interest in sustainability and  eco-consciousness become more prevalent. Those who are interested in  eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to  market, are called "locavores."

I plan to talk to him on the feasibility of could we even do this. So  getting back to Lorena's post she went on to detail where the items she  used that day was from. I ran around my house and looked on everything  I'd used today. I come from a factory family. Every member of my family  worked at the local factory. They made the meters on the side of your  house that gauges your electricity. That factory is what put food on our  table the past 50 years. My grandparents met there. My mom worked there  when I was little. She bought me a pool with her first paycheck. Other  members of my family worked at other local factories. All of them are  almost all gone. They've been outsourced to other countries. It's really  depressing to drive past the factory in the middle of my home town.  It's run down and lifeless. 25 years ago everyone I knew worked there.

The first thing I had today was a drink at Starbucks. I have no idea  where the coffee was from but I can ask tomorrow. I also had a tiny pink  donut from there. Again no idea. (not off to a great start here.)

I brushed my teeth when I got up.

The package doesn't say! Oh come on! Really 3 things and so far I have totally fouled.

Make that four! I showered last night but I  used deodorant this  morning. The package gives no clue as to where it was made. (I shall  email the company!)

Then I used perfume. I was feeling nostalgic to Dave circa 1996.

This was made in the USA, ok this is getting better.

I also used makeup today.

My mascara was made in France. My Blush was from Italy, eyeshadows from Canada, concealer and lipstick from Belgium. But all are made by the same brand! Fascinating Eh?

For lunch I had a grilled cheese and fries. I had them at a place on  campus. No idea where they came from. But what I can say is this  particular place is actively trying to get all their food locally. I  don't know how successful they are at it.

I had a Pepsi when I got home.

Imagine my surprise that it was made locally! It's from here in Mass.

I washed my hands with soap from Guatemala.

For dinner I had last nights leftovers.

I don't have the information on the ham or potatoes but they were both  "organic" from Whole Paychecks I mean Whole Foods. I can only hope they  were local but I'm doubtful. There were no beans left but those were  from New Jersey which is 5 hours from here. I'm thinking that's not  "local". The corn bread. Now that I know where it all came from. It was  made by a nun in New Hampshire. Which is local. The cornbread was from  my inlaws company.

Lastly the clothes on my back.

My sweater is missing the tag but it's from Gap. I know they've  notoriously had Clean Clothes issues. It does appear to have a union  number in it though..... Dave made my dress so that local. My purse  which Dave is holding off camera was made in USA. The boots and belt?  Made in China. Damn I thought I was almost in the clear.

In summation? If I was a being graded on being a Locavore, today I would  of failed  I would of had a dress, Pepsi and cornbread.  This tells me I  really need to be more aware of the things I use. I have been trying, I  can say I do consciously trying to support small business but I need to  expand that focus to local as well. I need  to keep my local farmers  and shop owners in business. I don't NEED to buy something from the big  box stores. (but yet I do)

What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you aware of where your products are coming from?

I am very curious what others think about this.


Verhext said...

I do the NOTHING FROM CHINA thing, for sure. It's not that hard because I almost never buy anything new - I grew up with my parents doing this so it's second nature for me now. I also eat locally, but I work for Fair Trade USA so - coffee? You're never going to get that locally made, it doesn't grow here. ;D

Starbucks has one Fair Trade blend, Cafe Estima.

hillary said...

I know your very busy right now but in the future if your open to it I would love to pick yours and emily's brains on this topic. Maybe write a how to live more consciously post. I'm a bit horrified how unaware I am when I thought I kinda was but realize I so am not.

Felicity said...

When I was in college one of my professors asked us all to go home and look at the tags inside our clothes and report back where they were from. I always read the tags, but it doesn't dictate whether or not I buy an item.

Haribo gummies are processed allover the world too, like your makeup. It's "fun" to go thru the bags and see where each flavor is produced.

Kelly said...

I do really make an effort when it comes to food. If, for example, I'm want beans and I can't find any local ones at my grocery store or in my produce delivery, that's not going to stop me from buying beans. But if I am looking for beans and I can find some local ones, I'll pay quite a bit more for them. (Not beans specifically, I don't even know if those are grown around here and I barely ever buy them....but just for an example.)

I'm not so good about getting everything else local though. I like to buy Proctor and Gamble toiletries because it's a Cincinnati company, but I have no idea if the stuff is actually *made* in Cincinnati or if the headquarters are just here. And if I find something better that's not made by P&G...I'll buy that something better instead.

The thing that really bugs me is when the label of something has two addresses, one local and one thousands of miles away. I have no idea which one it came from! And when the label says "Sold by so-and-so, Cincinnati, Ohio" - well, to me that sounds like maybe that milk was pumped from cows in South Dakota and shipped all the way to Cincinnati to be bottled up and sold. Or something. I wish there were just very clear "This came out of a plant or animal who lived in Ohio" label. But it's rarely that clear.

wendy said...

Thanks for posting this. Buying and consuming local products is one of the best things that we can do for our communities and therefore our world.
Have you read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"? A great book about the importance of buying local.
Thanks again.

Miss T said...

I've seen bottles of water that say on the label, "from an artisan well in xyz Texas, bottled in such and such Massachusetts," so it's entirely possible that the milk could be getting shipped in to get bottled at a factory.

If you really want to buy local, probably the easiest thing to do is eat more local food. See if there are any farmer's markets in your area, or if there is a food co-op where maybe you can get vegetables. You would have to go on a seasonal diet, as you would no longer be getting hothouse tomatoes from Mexico in January, but I've always thought something like that would be fun to try.

Athens, Ohio is a pretty excellent little college town where they are all about the local food movement. There are several aisles in the regular old supermarket (not even a Whole Foods, I think it's a Kroger) devoted to organic and local products and a lot of the eateries there serve dishes made entirely of locally produced food items. I drank some organic milk that came from a farm 30 miles up the highway for the 3 months I was living there and it was the best damn milk I've ever had.

hillary said...

I will say we do buy a lot of local food and patronize restaurants that serve it. But exactly lilke kelly said if they don't have it... We go with what they go The hard part is I'm am ever so slightly...*ahem* a picky eater. I dont like most fruit and vegetables. I know! (Dave shush!!!) I am miles and miles better than I was say 5 years ago. I actually had a salad on purpose last week. That is progress for me. With Dave's Celiac it's really limiting. Luckily his parents keep us in stock with cases and cases of their products!

It's the products I need to work on the local part hardcore.

Sheila said...

I'm fortunate that I live in a part of the world that grows fruits and veggies all year round. I shop at a local grocery store and I buy local produce as much as I can (sometimes it's from California or New Zealand, but I'm on the west coast). I do read all my cans and boxes from the grocery store. Oh, and they have a butcher counter (no meat in shrink wrap!) and they source all of it from my province.

I buy mostly second-hand clothes, but when I do buy new, I try to at least support local businesses or Canadian-owned businesses as much as I can.

Between Laundry Days said...

I love that you wrote a post about this! I'm getting more and more interested, and more and more into, the locavore movement. So far it's been limited mostly to the foods I eat. I've cut out non-seasonal fruits and veggies, since I know they travel such long distances to get to Colorado. I've started baking my own bread and trying to buy bulk foods from local grocers. It's really hard to completely live that way, though, because ultimately our world, and economy, isn't set up in a way that even lets us know where things originated (as you found with so much of your stuff). I think making an effort, and contacting companies to find out where things were made, where the products came from, and what kind of conditions they were made, or transported, in, is one of many first steps to change the way we understand the things we use, eat, buy, etc.

Whew. I'll get off my soap box now (and start to formulate a post about this myself, perhaps!). Thanks for the lovely post, Hillary!

Heather said...

Interesting post. Did you know that if a label says "Product of" that it doesn't mean the item's components are all from that place? There is a book called Locavore which is very, very good.

Between Laundry Days said...

Ha. When I said "Colorado" I meant "Chicago".

Louise said...

This post was so fun! It's important to know where out everyday things come from. Oh, and I have your Pfaltzgraff plates!

hillary said...

Really? I kinda highly dislike them. My sil and us got the same ones in 2002 because we were all convinced they would be great because they would match everything forever. She pawned hers off on her mom shortly there after and we still have them and I don't like them. I never ever should take other people's advice when my gut says no. I wanted this red set. They are SO heavy. I have a set of Martha from Kmart I love so much more.

They just aren't me and Dave at all. We are more sparkle heart shape plate people.

diane starkey said...

It's tricky to find a balance you're comfortable with. Sometimes my conscience dictates, other times its my budget.

I am fortunate to have a locally sourced food coop, and a big backyard garden. That helps the food part. (They even have homemade soaps and cleaning gear). Clothing and accessory wise, I am pretty flexible. I try to score amazing deals on quality items that I know I won't be replacing any time soon - In general, I avoid disposables - So at least I'm less wasteful, even if the item is from far away. I also swap and buy secondhand often.

Personal care products are the biggest challenge - I agree. Cruelty-free is probably more important to me than origin, but if I can find both, its a win. I love my Aveda and Philosophy, but idk where they are made.

Everyone has their own comfort zone. When ever I try to follow extreme rules, I eventually burn out. So I just try to find a happy balance. I'm learning all the time.

Great post. Would love to hear more.

Lorena said...

Hillary thank you for posting on this subject and expanding on it :)
As you may have seen from yesterday's or today's post so far I depend on half of the world by noon.
Today I realized I had made in China in most of the things I wore.
Are you ok with me linking this to my blog ?
Also , will you be doing it all week ?

Lorena said...

I forgot to comment I thought it was the weirdest thing EVER that your hand soap came from Guatemala !

mamichan said...

I'm a bit late to this discussion!

There's a book (memoir) about avoiding Chinese things, A Year Without Made in China. Basically the woman finds it's almost impossible to avoid Chinese things especially if you have kids.

Food-wise I know where it all comes from. Summers I get produce from my CSA and local farmers market. My grocery store of choice is a co-op and they are great about labeling the food origins. I try to buy as close to home as possible and generally avoid produce imported from other countries.

Fashion/Beauty wise I'm not as good - but I do like to support local designers and locally owned stores.

Basically I would prefer putting my spending money directly back into my local economy instead of some global conglomerate. With food, if you buy local, something like 32 cents for every dollar goes back to the farmer but if you buy conventional, it's like 6 cents.

hillary said...

Lorena please link away! Would anyone be interested in seeing me do it all week? I know I can't avoid somethings because I already own stuff. Know what I mean? But a glimpse into being more aware?

Masami Not late at all at any time 3 years later tomorrow feel free to jump on any discussion. You are someone whose brain I'd also like to pick because I know you are so good with your local food. (you might help me with my eating habits as well.)In lorena's post she mentions that book as well. I should see if we have it here at the library.

Diane. I am a city dweller at times I feel a bit handcuffed (I dont know how to drive) but I know I always hit up my local markets and such. Because of Dave's celiac with our food we are hyper aware of some stuff. Like what is in this where is it from what are their labeling laws... We also TRY but dont' always succeed with I don't let him have things with too many ingredients in it because of his wacky sensitivities.

Clare I somehow knew what you meant and didn't even noticed until you mentioned it that it was wrong.

Heather I did know that. Only because of contacting companies for ingredients though.

mamichan said...

I didn't really start eating locally until I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and the Michael Pollan books. But I think I had a little of that before, there's a big emphasis on eating seasonally/regionally in Japan.

The China thing is really hard though. I mean, just about everything in a Target or Walmart is made in China! What's really odd is that most holiday stuff - Easter, St. Patty's, etc - is from China and they don't even celebrate those holidays there!

Delane said...

your potatoes more than likely came from California or Idaho.

Check out the local map:

My original post on the locavore challenge is

its was hard!

hillary said...

I don't live in the Midwest.

hillary said...

Totally learn something new everyday.I was totally curious now and I called and talked to the very nice produce manager and he went and checked and they came from Las Vegas Nevada.

I so didn't even know they grew potatoes there.

He also wasn't in the least bit phased by my question which was the best part. ha.

Frances Joy said...

I started doing this yesterday, too. I was absolutely shocked by how little I really know about where my stuff comes from - and as a result, how little I know about how the people who made it were treated and compensated. I'm a terrible liberal. It was interesting to see where all your stuff came from!

Anonymous said...

I really liked this post!
I've been eating only organic and local food for a month last year. Also I only used eco friendly cosmetics, creams, soaps and stuff. That was a kind of a challenge, just to see if I can, if it is possible at all. I really enjoyed it after all and even now I do buy organic food as much as possible.
However, OMG! I never thought about checking where were all those things made. I liked it so much I might even try do it myself. I almost want to run to my bathroom right now to check all the labels. lol. :D Would also like to see you doing it for a week or so.
Now about China. I read articles about how bad people are treated in China and all, but if one day we all will stop buying "made in China" things, don't you think that lot's of those people will lose their jobs, and we lose all our cheaper choices, and that won't bring any good? I don't know, but I think there should be a balance and Chinese stuff is not that really very bad.
For example. If a Zara (I don't mean Zara, it's just an example from my head) cardigan made in China in our shops costs like let's say £30, it would cost £50 if it was made in England. That's because dress makers are supposed to be better paid in England than China.
If I can afford two Zara cardigans for £30 I'll buy two cardigans, but I can only buy one for £50. But then why should I buy one for £50, if I can go to another shop and buy two cardigans there. So I don't go to Zara, because that's expensive because let's pretend Zara clothes are made locally. Zara doesn't get enough income, Zara's English dress makers don't get paid at all, I don't have a cardigan and no one is happy after all. That's just my opinion. I'd like to know more why others want to ignore China, I really do.

hillary said...

Frances Joy I was shocked too how unaware of some stuff I was.

Stylegenerator now see I would buy the one $50 cardigan if it was supporting a local company. My dad is the same way but my gram would buy the multiple cheaper ones. I made a conscious decision about 2 years ago now to buy more quality over quantity because I was buying lots of things I only liked and instead I am saving up and buying only things I love and I find I have much less the standing infront of a closet full and not feeling like I want to wear any of it. But that isn't to say I don't buy awesome things for wicked cheap. I just would rather support a local company with better labor laws. Also my mom and my inlaws both own small mom and pop companies and both my dad's are self employed and how hard it is for them all to just stay afloat and I would like to support others in similar situations. I also really really don't like seeing tons and tons of people wearing the same dress as me. It doesn't feel special anymore.

Anonymous said...

You've got a point. Supporting locals is a good thing, looking different is even better, but when it comes to those big brands, that people buy anyway, and it's quite hard to avoid them sometimes, then, well, imho there's not much difference where the product was made, China, Korea or Spain, or any other country.
I've been doing lots of jobs here in England, and I can't say that I was treated well everywhere, also quality of a product wasn't always the company's priority.

DanaElayne said...

I would love to do things locally, but I live in the middle of nowhere. I can get locally grown produce in the spring and summer. I do try to buy that, but locally made anything not happening here. The nearest city is 45 minutes away. The nearest "big" city is at least 2 hours.