Made in China.
The top of the frozen apple juice can was stamped with the date, then the word "China."
I could not believe it. China? I live in the Shenandoah Valley, at one time the biggest apple producer in the world, and my apple juice comes from China?
Maybe it’s just this store brand, I thought. But a visit to another grocery store confirmed it. They stocked a name brand, the top of it stamped with the date and the words "from China."
I googled "China and apples." Stories and reports came up confirming my … yes, fear. I hadn’t been paying attention, it seems. Nearly all of America’s apple juice concentrate comes from China.
Those tiny oval gold stickers haunt me.
Those stickers were on my carbon steel pepper grinder and salt shaker set. They’re on many of the picture frames that hold the faces of those I love. Other items "Made in China" include the small stainless thermos I bought last week, an American Greetings card from a friend, numerous Christmas cards, Christmas tins, bread machine, kitchen scale, oil & vinegar bottle set, rustic motorcycle ceramic, a strand of fake ivy, molded angel candle, pedometer, stainless steel wok, lamps, wire baskets, Heavy Duty Milwaukee Work Light, small brass alarm clock, telephones and the eyeglass frames through which I see the world.
Given a choice, I try to purchase merchandise made in the USA or anywhere in the world but China. This is often futile. I understand that reality.
But apple juice? This is where I draw the line.
So I was talking to a nurse about this. She grew up in Winchester and assured me that the White House brand based there used only domestic apples.
Relieved to find a source in Virginia, on Wednesday I purchased four half-gallon bottles of White House apple juice. I was happy to have a choice, even if it cost a few cents more. Feeling quite satisfied with myself, I later poured out a small glass. That’s when I saw the small print stamped on the side of the bottle: "Concentrate China."
As I write this, the remaining three bottles are back in the grocery bag with the receipt, ready to return. I will not drink apple juice from China.
In May 2004, the Daily News-Record ran a Byrd Newspapers story about the National Fruit Product Co. based in Winchester, which makes White House apple juice and other apple products. The article, which I should have read before making my purchase, said the company purchased its apple juice concentrate from China because it cost 40 to 50 percent less than from other markets.
China, the article said, produces more than half of the world’s 85 billion pounds of apples.
The Washington Post in an October 2004 article said the USDA estimated in 2003 and 2004 that the United States imported 320,000 tons of low-priced apple juice concentrate, mostly from China. Apple juice concentrate forms the base of many blended juices these days, including Nestle’s Juicy Juice.
OK, I realize the Chinese have to make a living, too. But with all these products from China, many which are no longer manufactured anywhere else, I get this creepy feeling that China — Communist China, mind you — is taking over the world.
Could China be able to dominate us through our religious devotion to materialism? Through our obsession with consuming? Through our addiction to shopping?
On the other hand, saving money on a cheap item from China means we have more to spend on something else. Do we really need that something else? Or are we better off spending a few extra dollars on something made by our neighbors, or in the USA or at least a member of the Fair Trade Association?
My mother taught me that spending extra money on quality meant saving it later. That’s being long-sighted. Our short-sighted gotta-have-it-now state of mind leads us to buy things without thinking about the long-range consequences, if not directly for ourselves, to the people around us and the future of humankind.
Publicly, we get vocal and uptight about the need for jobs, yet don’t think about jobs at all when buying a car, TV set, blue jeans or birthday card.
As for my apple juice, what I’ve decided to do is buy locally grown and produced apple cider when it’s in season and find other juices to drink the rest of the year.
Which will present it’s own dilemma.
Contact Luanne Austin at 574-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.