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Country of Origin Concerns

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Do you care where your food comes from? Over the past few years I've been paying attention to where the food in my local stores comes from, and I have slowly stopped buying imported produce, fresh or frozen, as well as many canned goods items. especially those from China and several other countries. There is also a lot of fish that I won't buy because they are farmed, or farmed in certain countries. The result is that, for produce, I'm now eating fresher and better tasting produce purchased from local farms. A side benefit is that the produce stays fresher longer in the fridge, as it's not already several days or a week (or more) old when I buy it. I've sometimes had to look hard to find certain types of fish.

What about you? Does it matter to you where your food comes from? Are there certain foods from certain countries that you avoid completely. Are you willing to give up certain fruits and veggies at certain times of the year in favor of buying locally grown seasonal produce? Are you even able to buy locally grown produce in your area?

post #2 of 42
Yes it matters to me. I try to buy local and buy it all in one place. It doesn't matter what it is, what matters is that it's fresh.

Problem is so many people go to the grocery store with a list and freak out when something on the list is out of stock. They can't improvise. Foodies, they go out, see something nice, and have an idea in their head about what to do with it. ;)
post #3 of 42
I also look at COA. I agree that buying local is best, but sometimes it's extremely difficult. After the situation with food and other items from China, I try to avoid buying anything I'd ingest from there- but it's hard. (For the record, to me it's strictly a Chinese government thing- not the Chinese culture or people that sparked this.)

I'm also concerned about pesticides and fertilizer (waste) used on plant products, so I use a fruit and vegetable wash on fresh items. It helps get off the plain ol' grit, too.
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post #4 of 42
I live in rural northeastern Indiana. We can get lots of local produce in the summer. During the winter, it becomes much more difficult. The closest year round farmer's market is over an hour from me. I am stuck either buying frozen or being at the mercy of whatever is available at the grocery stores.
post #5 of 42
Thread Starter 
When you buy frozen veggies, do you read the label to see where the veggies came from? Do you care where they came from, or will you buy whatever's available?

post #6 of 42
Sorry, I just realized I didn't fully answer the question as intended. LOL That's what happens when the kids are hungry and want to eat lunch.

I do look at labels on everything I buy. I much prefer to support workers, farmers, etc. in the US than other countries. I have seen the economic effects first hand in communities where I've lived. Also as you mentioned, the closer to home a product is grown, the fresher it is.
post #7 of 42
I wrote COA but meant COO!

With all the problems today I'm content to have some reasonable assurance of food safety. I do care about farm workers, but food safety comes first.
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post #8 of 42
I care about COO but sometimes it isn't feesible to me because of my budget to always buy local. For instance, I buy local produce as close to year round as possible but local meats and cheese are another thing. I try to use American companies for those (Wisconsin cheeses, etc), but lamb comes from New Zealand or Australia, and I am betting my Tilapia comes from China. I'm relatively sure my beef and poultry are American.

I don't have the budget to eat organic but I would sure like to when possible.
post #9 of 42
About 90 percent of the US' and Canada's vegetable crop comes from the Yuma area. Unfortunately, this year most of the crop will not be picked because there simply isn't sufficient labor for the picking. :( Unfortunately, we are becoming more and more dependent upon farms beyond our borders and therefore beyond our control in terms of pesticide use and such.

Local is good because you know what is done locally and the local farmers know you know. :)
post #10 of 42
We have a very good organic farming network that holds farmer's markets twice weekly in my town. We have many Hmong families that have what we used to call truck gardens. I don't know that their products are necessarily organic (kind of hard to ask them), but they are grown locally. There are two vegetable processing plants within 50 miles of here. At one, you can buy direct from the canning plant, so you can buy local canned produce. Other areas may have canning or processing plants that offer the same options.
post #11 of 42
Thread Starter 
I doubt that 90% of the US and Canadian vegetable crop comes from the Yuma area. Can you support that contention?

You didn't address the questions put forth in the original post: Does it matter to you where your food comes from? Are there certain foods from certain countries that you avoid completely. Are you willing to give up certain fruits and veggies at certain times of the year in favor of buying locally grown seasonal produce? Are you even able to buy locally grown produce in your area?

post #12 of 42
Thread Starter 
That's wonderful, however, it doesn't answer the questions put forth in the orriginal post.

post #13 of 42
Yuma, Arizona

"celebrating the fact that over 90 percent of the country's winter vegetable crops are grown in the Yuma area. "

See link above in which you will find the quote that I cut and paste.

Edited to add another link (http://www.fcssw.com/notebook/BottomLine.pdf) from which I pulled the following quote:

Yuma County has been called the winter vegetable capital of the United States. C.R. Waters, president of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, said the area produces 90 percent of the winter vegetables consumed in the United States and Canada, including 98 percent of the iceberg lettuce.
post #14 of 42
I think it is abundantly clear from my earlier response that I do, in fact, care about where my food comes from (note the smiley face next to the locally grown comment and the frowny face next to the dependency on other countries comment).

I do buy locally grown produce... either at Whole Foods or the local farmers' markets.
post #15 of 42
I try to focus on quality, regardless of origin. I'm a fan of supporting local growers whenever possible, but the biggest problem I've run in to is steady supply availablility and reasonable pricing.

An example would be tomatoes. I really like the Florida UglyRipe tomatoes. However, when a flood in NC cuases their tomato price to rise, the Fla farmers immediately jack up their price, even though their actual cost has not changed one bit. Unfortunately I find smaller farmers to have that greed/opportunity mind set, rather than trying to partner with their communities.

Regarding local farmers markets....beware.
In the produce industry, it's called the 'Terminal' business.
This is where elephants go to die, basically.

If you can buy from terminals daily, you'll probably be okay, but generally speaking, produce sold at terminal markets have very little shelf life left. It's a myth that this is the freshest produce around, it's bottom of the barrell product, picked clean, that will be tossed away if not sold within 24-48 hours.

It's one of the biggest rackets in the produce industry (next to short weight packs) and everyone knows it.

On the other hand, if you want the truly ripest tomatoes possible, that's likely the only place you'll find it. I've always felt, if you're not throwing out 15% of your tomatoes upon delivery, they're not ripe enough.

Regarding China-bashing;
I realize it's easy to jump on this bandwagon, but the true facts have yet to come out. Generally speaking, China has some of the cleanest food production facilities in the world. Literally imacculate. I've been to many US plants over the years (Cheese, milk, butter, beef, pork, poultry, lamb, oils, shrimp, clams, wild fish etc) that would pale in comparison to Chinese standards (which have been set by US and global customers).

What you haven't been reading in the latest food scare headlines is that the FDA/USDA inspection levels for dyes, antibiotics, and various other contaminants that are domestically produced, are never tested for any of these banned substances, just the imports.

To put things into perspective, this high and mighty US horse some people are sitting on is made of glass.
76 Million cases of Foodborne illnesses per year in this country, 5000 die.
What makes up the vast majority?
US Produced beef, poultry, produce and seafood.

Vibrio from our Gulf Oysters
Ecoli o157h7 from our cattle
Salmonella from our chicken products
Numerous pathogens from our produce (both organic and commercial grade)
...and on and on and on.

My personal conclusion is that if something provides quality, consistency, and value, I really don't care where it comes from. I am enjoying the world being a smaller place.

Cat Man
post #16 of 42
Thread Starter 
None of which supports your original statement, which was that "About 90 percent of the US' and Canada's vegetable crop comes from the Yuma area."

post #17 of 42
I think he meant the Salinas/Central Valley area of California and it's about 75%. But only Lettuce, Broccolli, Asparagus, Avacados, Garlic and the such. Florida is the number one state for Tomatoes and Green Peppers.
NC for Sweet Potatoes, PA for Mushrooms, WA and MI for Apples, pears etc.
Mexico is definitely chipping away at this market share though.

Cat Man
post #18 of 42
Winter crop, Shel. It supports that statement entirely.
post #19 of 42
You're quite right, Cat Man.
post #20 of 42
Thread Starter 
But, my friend, that's not what you originally posted, hence my comments and questions. Originally you made the blanket statement that Yuma provides 90% of the US and Canadian vegetable market, which is not quite the same as 90% of the winter vegetable market.

I'm still skeptical of the figure based on what I see here wrt to vegetables coming from Mexico and Latin America, and the very large amount of winter veggies grown in California.

post #21 of 42
post #22 of 42
I try to buy mostly produce from Oregon, but can't get bananas or chiles from here, so Latin American is good for those.

Although I grew up in India, I avoid canned goods from India in general because you can't rely on their quality at all. Less perishable goods, sometimes, although their packaging is often substandard and they're iffy. Basmati rice from India from sure--there is no substitute and it's always good.

Bananas and pineapples are about the only tropical fruits you can get here that are worth anything. Mangoes, sometimes. I wish I could get really good guavas and papayas, but I gave up on that.

I have never been disappointed with imports from Japan or Thailand.

I agree on the China imports--I avoid them.
post #23 of 42
Thread Starter 
Hmmm ... we're overrun with papaya here, many of which come from Hawaii. There are several vaieties and sizes available. I'm surprised you can't find them in Oregon. Where in Oregon are you?

BTW, I love good papaya. I sometimes make a breakfast smothie with nice, fresh ripe papaya, some appropriate berries (really nice, ripe, in season strawberries are good), and some fresh-squeezed orange juice, and maybe, if there's aproperly ripened banana, I'll add one as well.

post #24 of 42
There are plenty of papayas here, but hardly any that I have liked. I realize there are different kinds. The Hawaiian ones are closer to what I grew up with.

I am in high desert country, central Oregon.:D
post #25 of 42
I buy organic foods in the main. I buy locally produced fruit and veg in season, and also grow some of my own.

However, the climate in Scotland is not conducive to a varied diet in the long winters - roots veggies and brassicas just about covers what is available! It gets a bit boring after a while - so I have to supplement with veggies from other lands.

Luckily, in the UK, a lot of our imported veg and fruit is from southern European countries, like France, Italy and Spain with some from Israel (although I've never been impressed with the 'taste' of Israeli shipments of Northern European veggies, like potatoes, for instance), potatoes from Egypt. At the moment, I've got some lovely cherries from Turkey in my fridge! Bananas are from the ex-British colonies in the Windward Isles, oranges from southern Europe and from South Africa - another ex-colony where we have long had ties of fruit/veg production for the British market.

I cannot abide frozen veggies, apart from organic petit pois - so I don't know for certain, but seem to recall that they are usually grown in the UK.

Tinned veggies? Well, Italian plum tomatoes (from Italy, I mean, not a type of tomato!) are always available in my store cupboard, along with bottled passata. Oh and tins of ratatouille - simply because, by about Jan or Feb, it is often better than my frozen home-made stuff!

Tinned and frozen foods do not appear to come from places like China, probably because we have Europe on our doorstep. We get lots of things like pickles from Eastern European countries.
post #26 of 42
Hi Catman I would say you are right on with the farmers markets in general. I think you really need to know your suppliers.

My farm stand is actually located right next door to the farm where the veggies are produced, so I'm pretty sure judging from look, feel and smell that the stuff is fresh off the vine, but I sure could be misled, too. :-/
post #27 of 42
Thread Starter 
My experience is quite different wrt the farmers markets I frequent. Everything is first quality and fresh - fresh - fresh. However, there are more than 160 markets that I know of in the Bay Area, and it's possible some are not very good, don't know all of them. However, the ones I frequent have strong guide lines, are supported by some great local chefs, restaurateurs, and community businesses and organizations, and the vendors all have a long histories of good reputations.

We even have a number of magazines and newsletters that focus on these markets, and word would get around pretty quickly if any vendor is sloughing off poor product. And, of course, the buyers at these markets are pretty sophistaicated - they know good produce and just won't patronize any vendor that's not selling top quality fruits and veggies. Many of the vendors supply the best restaurants in the area, and all are small family run farm operations.

I can assure you and Cat Man that you'd be impressed with the quality at these markets. I'm very fussy, my friends are very fussy, and we're all quite satisfied. Some of us no longer shop at supermarkets, or even natural grocery stores, as they're the ones selling older, more expensive, lower quality produce, a lot of which is not local.

post #28 of 42
Thread Starter 
I have no idea what you're referring to. When have I ever taken a shot at you?

post #29 of 42
I've stopped buying food from China and some from India too. I trust the flours from India. As for the other stuff, it's just not worth it. The soy sauce and the various garam masalas though, that's the big issue. The rest of the stuff I can live without. I just won't use black bean paste in my cooking. There are other great things to eat anyway, no loss to me. :)
post #30 of 42
shel, you are sooo hugely lucky!!!! san fran markets must be gorgeous and the seafood! I can only fantasize and drool, trust me on that one! ;) :D

kuan - you get one spanking from me. Naughty! Naughty! ;) I'm now going into the kitchen to throw away my black bean paste and pout for the rest of the day! hmmmph! ;)

Hey shel speaking of San Fran, have you ever been to Brandy Ho's?
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