Ok friends, things are about to get a little more intense. Or hardcore. Whatever you want to call it. Last post, we looked at buying American-produced food at the grocery store. I can guarantee that you (yes, YOU!) probably have food in your fridge from somewhere here in America. Howgreatisthat? The grocery store is an excellent place to start because it’s pretty much unavoidable. Well-now that you have that under your belt, let’s take another leap of faith into the American economy. Next stop, the farm stand!

Farm stands and farmer’s markets are about as local as you can get. The people selling you the food are most likely the people that actually grew it–so you’re probably talking to the actual person who put the sweat equity into your dinner (or snack). The food is fresher, more visually appealing, and normally cultivated in a more eco-friendly manner than something mass-produced. Don’t you care more about something if you have to work hard for it?

“Oh, that looks SO fun, but there aren’t any farmer’s markets around me!” you might say. Think so? Try again. Do a google search and you may be surprised at what turns up! Being out in the open, fresh air is invigorating. Your kids will love running free and wandering from stand to stand, inspecting the visual feast of fresh vegetables, yeasty warm breads, clean and pure handmade soaps, and hormone free meats.  It’s a nice family adventure and it sure beats the flickering yellow fluorescent lights and dull hum of the regular grocery store complete with stale air. Now I’m not saying that the grocery store is bad and I don’t make it to a farmer’s market every week by ANY means! What I am saying, though, is that it’s a good time. Satisfying. All the fun of the farm without the bugs and cow poo. Knowing you’re enjoying yourself WHILE crossing off part of your to-do list? Fabulous.

Portland has an INCREDIBLE farmer’s market. It’s great to walk around in and there’s a huge variety of things there. They actually function TWICE a week instead of just on weekends, so if you need something for a wonderful wednesday dinner (or just something fresh) you can skip on down to Monument square and wander around.  For more info go to http://www.portlandmainefarmersmarket.org/ OR check out their facebook page!

In Bridgton, there’s a farmer’s market EVERY saturday during the summer. This picture with the green bins is what you’re likely to see there. They have seedlings for your garden, fresh, crisp veggies, hand milled soaps, even locally spun alpaca yarn *heavenforusknitters*! The prices are good, too. The last time I was there I got 2 pounds of rhubarb for about $3.00! Pretty comparable to the supermarket.

Another local spot to hit is Reinhard’s Farm Stand on Kimball Corner road here in Naples. It’s a little bit up from the greenhouses, and worth the drive (which isn’t that bad from 302 to begin with). A cute little stand that works off the honor system.

The prices are simply incredible. Summer squash, for example, is .50 a pound! Compare that to Hannaford’s SALE price of 1.99 and you have a 1.49 savings on every pound you buy. Their corn is fresher than anything I’ve bought anywhere else, and their green beans are HUGE. A quick suggestion- look up a curried zucchini soup recipe and get two pounds of veggies for a dollar, fry up some grilled cheeses and kick back knowing you just fed your family dinner for less than 2.00 a person! I’d tell you all their prices but I think you should go look for yourself…

Do you think farm stands are worth the effort? Have a favorite farm-stand food based recipe? I’d LOVE to hear your responses!

 

Good job finding the giveaway entry requirements!

Leave a comment on the yarn giveaway page stating ONE area of your purchasing that you’d like to be more conscientious with in buying American. Then, name one store you think you could do that at.

For Example:

I would like my children to be playing with American made toys. I know Treehouse Toys in Portland carries things made in the US.

Extra entries for reposting a link on facebook! On Thursday the 18th I will have Rebekah choose a name out of a hat (because honestly, that’s way more fun than a random number generator but just as fair) and the winner can choose to either have a skein of yarn, or a pair of fingerless mitts! Good luck!

 (image from 17 andbaking.com)

Wonder where we’re going today?

HINT: It’sfoodrelated…

Buying American can be really overwhelming. Things manufactured in the US are hard to find and maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “humm, but WHERE do I even start?” Maybe you’re uncomfortable with purchasing US goods online because you just don’t like to online shop. You want to see, look, touch, smell the items you might buy. You want to examine them, hold them in your hands for scrutiny. And you don’t want to wait for mail time, you don’t want to go through the hassle of an online return if necessary.

  Me too. Just because I’m passionate about buying American doesn’t mean I’ve always done it. Or do it. Doesn’t mean you’re bad if you don’t. But if you push through the overwhelming plethora of goods that is the market, you can do it too.Today I’m going to help you buy American starting at a place you go every week: The grocery store.

(photo from thegreenists.com)

Groceries are something you can’t get around (unless you have a bigold farm with veggies and chickens and cows. If you do, I’m jealous …) and you might be surprised to find that some of the things you already buy are manufactured right here in the US. I have a challenge for you: go to your refridgerator. Open it, peek inside. Check out your milk. Cheese. Maybe you like yogurt? Take a look at it. How about potatoes? I’m betting Idaho or Maine.  Chances are that these things are all from the US already. Don’t you feel good about yourself now? Buying American without even knowing! Jif peanut butter, country kitchen bread, Pepperidge Farm cookies…oh yes.

In the produce section, the little stickers on the veggies and fruits should tell you exactly where they’re grown. As we just said, some of the stuff in your cart is most likely already American. After becoming more aware of this, do you think you’ll look more closely at where things are produced?

Next post I’ll do a spotlight on farmer’s markets and farm stands: How to find them, what to buy, and how to use it once you’ve got it!

P.S. I took the girls shopping today and didn’t even look in Gap’s direction. I DID, however, get a Nalgene water bottle from L.L. Bean for $7. Any guesses where it’s made and maufactured?

I really want to be more responsible with my purchases. I see people everywhere struggling to find work, unemployed, or just barely making it.  Now I’m going to get up on my soapbox and lecture for a minute. STRUGGLING IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING! It teaches us to be fiscally responsible, frugal, and cut unneccessary expenses from our living. For example: Do I really need the delicious Almond Joy bar staring at me in the grocery store checkout? Nope. Do I really have to have the latest skinny jeans? Again, nonotreallyatall.

Speaking of having things, sometimes my phenomenal husband just drives me nuts, and I hear his voice ringing through the house: “Hun, where’s the  (insert ANYTHING we own rightinhere) ?” I get it. I stay home with the girls, I know where it’s all kept. But whatever he’s looking for is usually right there if he’d just look. American consumers are the same way. We know what we want, but sometimes we don’t know where to look. That’s where I’m hoping this blog will come in. I’ll do the legwork to spotlight different American companies that are hopefully not too expensive.

So I’m going to make a promise to you, my reader. I’m swearing off my favorite store for a year, the Gap. Their sales are great and their clothing fits me well. But nothing’s locally made. Instead, I am going to purchase only US made clothing, clothing from yard sales (because even if it’s foreign made, the money still goes directly to an American) or clothing I’ve made.

I’m going to do a little price comparison between another store I like, American Eagle, and American Apparel stuff from Etsy.com.

You’d think they both manufacture everything in the US since the FIRST word you see is “American”, right?

Negative. Only one does. In fact, American Eagle doesn’t sell a SINGLE item that I’ve seen produced here in our country…So you can spend 19.50 + shipping on this: http://www.ae.com/web/browse/product.jsp?productId=2301_3485 and get a shirt that’s cute, but not made in the US–it’s creating jobs somewhere overseas…

or you could spend 12.50 + 2.50 shipping on this:

And contribute to the local economy TWO ways: First, you’re supporting a local artist who hand-screenprints these shirts, and second, the shirts themselves are made in the US by a California based company called American Apparel who is sweatshop-free and creates lots of American jobs. I think that’s a much more win-win situation, don’t you?

 Picture uploaded and linked with permission from Adam at Elementalshop. Take a look at their Etsy page, they have more than just this and it’s all US made and very reasonably priced! http://www.etsy.com/people/elementalshop#

 Now I realize that people have different tastes – there are lots of different styles on Etsy. This scarf by Zenthreads is breezy and could probably coordinate with anything. Click on the scarf and it’ll take you right to the Zenthreads wesbite, which has pillows, shirts, dinner napkins, and other fun stuff.

On the American Apparel website, there’s a link that demonstrates how to wear this scarf ten different ways. You can use it as a headwrap, a shirt, etc. Pretty versatile if you ask me! I love the fact that it reminds me of an old farmhouse (home, perhaps?).

The great thing about Etsy is that you can choose colors of the fabric and the screenprinting. Most of the shop owners are extremely friendly and helpful, and always willing to help you figure out sizing

 

Ok great, but nothing to wear for a night out on the town? Look at this cute dress from flytrap on Etsy!

  

 The point is, there’s tons of American made clothing out there if you look hard enough. Etsy is a great source for lots of it, and has a feature where you can enter your zipcode to get even more local.

Where/When was the last time you actually saw a piece of clothing made in the US? I’d love to hear your comments!

 

Putting in the disclaimer that I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way to post the info about any of the clothing that I posted . I just think it’s cute and affordable.

So somehow we’ve ended up with only one sheet set in the house, and of course last night that sheet set ended up in the laundry. Ok, we only use the fitted because my hubby thrashes around in his sleep and gets the flat sheet all bunched up, and what’s the point of even having it if you’re going to find it jammed in the footboard by morning? I’ve long given up on folding and neatly tucking the edges hospital style. A perfectionist, I’m not.

Anyways, I decided today that I would venture out after church to attain a new sheet for our bed. That should be fairly simple, right? Once you get used to lugging two children around it becomes a nonissue. I wanted bedding We needed bedding so off we went, the girls and I.

 Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to bedding–my only preference this time? Made in America. Between national and local economy issues and being married to a man who is PASSIONATE about his family business, I decided that I’d make a real effort to buy American made products as much as possible without breaking the bank. The national news had a few stories too, where they cleaned a house out of everything not made in America- the family was left with a vase, and something else I forgot. It spoke to me.  So I picked up the phone to call a few stores in the Portland area before wasting the gas to get out there.

 60 Minutes later: no gas wasted. no fussing from the girls. no American-made sheets.

I called ten stores (got put on hold for 13 minutes by one place as they hand-checked the entire stock) with no results. J.C. Penney, Sears, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Mills & Co, America’s Mattress, Cuddledown, L.L. Bean, Target, Wal-Mart, and Marshalls all had nothing to offer me.  I ended up bartering with a manager at Marshall’s to get a clearanced Ralph Lauren fitted for ten dollars. Bartering works wonders in the stores- don’t be shy, just be friendly and ask. The worst they’ll say is no, and then you can either buy it or put it back. Anyways, now that I’m home I’ve found a few brands that carry American made sheets. Not in my budget, but maybe in yours:

  • Heart of Vermont
  • Native Organic
  • Cozytown Linens
  • Celia Rachel
  • KellyGreen

What about you?