Monday, July 27, 2009

A Bag Of Groceries

I went to Trader Joe's to pick up some fun food stuff.

This is not "core" food, i.e., it is not my morning granola breakfast cereal (made in the USA and distributed from California) or milk (from a dairy in North Carolina), or bags of boil-it-in-the-pouch Indian food (made in India) which I put over jasmin rice (grown in Thailand), and not spaghetti (made in USA, distributed from California) and tomatoes sauce (made in USA, distributed from Indiana), or potatoes (grown in the USA) or hot dogs (made in the USA), or coffee (Sumatran at the moment, but sometimes sourced from Kenya, Columbia, Mexico or Tanzania).

This is fun food stuff.

The total cost for one bag of food: $34.61. Here is what I got, what it is, where it came from, and what it cost.

  • The Butternut Squash Soup says "17% organic ingredients" and includes filtered water, organic soybeans, natural cane sweetener, sea salt, expeller pressed canola oil, rice flour, natural flavor, onion powder, garlic powder and ginger. No source is given for this soup other than distributed by Trader Joe's of Needham, Massachusetts. The soup contains no preservatives, no artificial colors and no artificial flavors. Cost: $2.49 for a quart.

  • The Carrot Ginger Soup has water, carrots, onions, potatoes, honey, organic evaporated cane sugar, rice flour, ginger root, expeller pressed canola oil and/or saflower oil, seat salt, spices, natural flavor. No source is given other than distributed by Trader Joe's of Needham, Massachusetts. The soup contains no preservatives, no artificial colors and no artificial flavors. Cost: $2.79 for a quart.

  • The Creamy Corn and Roasted Pepper Soup (2 boxes) is water, sweet corn, potatoes, onions, honey, roasted poblano peppers, cilantro, sea salt, expeller pressed canola oil and/or saflower oil and/or sunflower oil. No source is given other than distributed by Trader Joe's of Needham, Massachusetts. The soup contains no preservatives, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors. Cost: $2.79 per quart

  • Two plastic tubs of black licorice Scottie Dog candies, made in San Francisco - $2.99 each. I freeze these so I eat them a little slower.

  • A package of 3 gorgeous fresh peppers in three colors (orange, red, yellow), grown in the Netherlands - $3.49. I have no idea of what I am going to do with these peppers, but they were gorgeous.

  • A package of crystallized ginger, from Thailand - $1.49. A guily pleasure.

  • A package of "soft and juicy" dried mango, from Thailand - $1.69. An exotic snack.

  • A package of chile-spice pineapple, no source, $2.49. An experiment. I can already tell you a failed one.

  • A package of six kiwi fruit, from Chile - $2.49.

  • A dozen brown extra-large eggs, from Pennsylvania -$2.29. Generally eaten hard-boiled.

  • A tub-canister of Chai Instant Spice tea, no source. - $2.99. Another experiment.
Anything to learn here? Maybe. I eat food from five continents. You probably do too. I do not eat much meat. Those colored bell peppers, it turns out, are grown in greenhouses, and are even imported into Florida. Go figure. I guess some parts of American agriculture are about as up-to-date as American car design and manufacturing.


Rocambole said...

This is "fun food" for you because, as I have said before -- you don't cook, buddy! :-)

I'll give you the chai, the candy, and the dried fruit/ginger. The soup? Especially the butternut soup? Please -- I can make -- and grow -- much better butternut soup than you can buy anywhere. (I'll prove it to you -- come by with the doggies in October to clear out the groundhogs and you can select the squash you want for your soup for dinner that night. {Note to other readers: As a grower, will I do anything to get rid of groundhogs? I think the answer to that is "Oh, yes, I will!"])

However, I cannot believe that you BOUGHT COLORED PEPPERS FROM HOLLAND IN JULY!!!!!!! What the freaking heck is wrong with your local farmer's market? Good God, man, I have grown, and grown well, every color of pepper known to Seed Savers Exchange and where it not that I'm growing 2 types of paprika pepper this year (I love paprika and after all, it is my plot at the community garden ;-)) plus a new type of red bell for the Northeast, I could FedEx you a bouquet of colored peppers (our community garden prides itself on its pepper production). I can think of 3 vendors just off the top of my head at my local farmer's market that sells different colored peppers (one vendor on Saturday had a bin of different colored beets -- it was way cool.)

I don't like licorice (although the plant is beautiful and we have one at the community garden), but maybe you should send me some sliced, dried ginger to calm me down. :-)


Rocambole said...

Oh, I'm back -- we grow hardy kiwis at the community garden, too. I'll send you some in late September/October. They keep forever in the frig.


PBurns said...

You are right, that in this house we do not cook -- we boil. If we can boil it, we eat it. Bake? Roast? Not so much. No time!

As for the soups, try them. Seriously. I have been all over the world, and these are just as about the best I have ever had. Very good stuff. And cheap!

As for the colored bell peppers, if you go to the link in the post, you will find that MOST of the colored peppers in the U.S. come from overseas, and that is even true in Florida. In Florida? In Florida! Is this due to a failure of American agricultural production or distribution? Clearly: YES. No doubt both.

The duty and job of American farmers is to put food in front of us. No one should be expected to drive 30 miles out into the countryside on the *hope* that a farm stand might have the same perfect peppers that are in front of them at the supermarket at a reasonable price. Holland has very tough environmental laws and there is a reason those peppes were selected above all others in the world. Trader Joe's was not tyring to screw American farmers out of a profit. The problem is that American farmers, for whatever reason, are not delivering. On the upside, based on the link, it looks like the U.S. may be *starting* to invest in greenhouse fruit and vegetable production, including the growth of peppers. Clearly, however, we have a long way to go both in terms of production and distribution. Anything Holland can grow and distribute we should be able to produce and distributre as well. And yet, very clearly, we are not.


PBurns said...

Guess who grows the most Kiwi Fruit in the world? Italy! See >>

I would never have guessed.


Rocambole said...

On the colored peppers, it appears to be the distribution. I wasn't going to mention this in the Berry thread, but at ag conferences, the tobacco delimea of Kentucky farmers was gone over in detail -- crop anaylsis said that colored bell peppers (red, orange, purple, etc) would make up most of the income with a bit more work. The problem was that no one (government, industry, etc) would develop the distribution/pick-up so that the peppers wouldn't rot in the barn. Another of the benefits of tobacco was that it really didn't matter when anyone bothered to show up in Kentucky to haul away the crop -- dried properly, tobacco was nearly forever.

It is truly sad when the infrastructre exists to haul colored peppers (which, being ripe, do go bad a whole lot faster than green peppers) from Holland, but we can't keep Kentucky farmers on their land because no one wants to come get the crop on a timely basis.

High tunnels and greenhouses are finally moving forward -- Penn State is doing a lot of research here and for peppers, which are really perennials if you can keep them from frost and get some interesting bugs INSIDE the peppers that can do some real damage if you want to sell the crop, they make a lot of sense. I would think a high tunnel of perennial plants would have an amazing profit potential for ripe (colored) peppers in a place like Fl - it's just (;-)) a matter of infrastructure and time to let the peppers get to real maturity.


Rocambole said...

I can see why the Italians want kiwis -- the plants are a whole lot easier to deal with than grapes and there is a huge tradition of covering your porch with grapevines for both shade and fruit.

I grew up with many Greek and Italian immigrints in Pittsburgh. Most of them had grapevines covering the back deck instead of a porch roof. Having grown both, I'd dump grapevines for a kiwi vine in a minute, too.

Plus, kiwis -- yum! :-D