Living in Northern Lower Michigan, I consider myself lucky that we have an abundance of farmers and farm markets in our community. From summer through fall, we have a wealth of places where we can buy local fruits and vegetables, pumpkins, honey, beef, poultry, fish and many other products. 

Even in the winter, we have some creative an ambitious farmers who are doing what they can to provide themselves year-round revenue while offering us products in the snowy months, utilizing things like hoop houses and cold storage.

We have farmers markets and roadside stands but we also have smaller grocery stores and retailers who are very open to selling our local and Michigan products.

But what if you live somewhere you don’t have the option to buy locally or even products from your own state? Maybe you live in a big city without farmers or farmland anywhere close by or your state isn’t really known for growing a whole lot of produce due to its climate or soil.

You can still buy American. 

It’s really that easy. 

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You have to pay attention to what you are buying – and talk to your local retailers if you are not seeing American produce available to you.

America needs to be food independent. It’s just as important as being emergency independent, maybe more so.

As the American Farm Bureau Federation says, “Food security is critical to our national security.”

America need to be in control of our own food so that we can dictate the quality, availability and safety of our food supply. In order to that that, we have to support the American farmer.

According to a recent USDA survey, for the calendar year 2019, 99% of the food examined by the USDA had either no pesticide residue or minimal levels of residue that fell within or below the EPA’s tolerance for pesticide products.

We’re not going to get that kind of food safety with imported fruits and vegetables and too much of it gets through the system without even being inspected.

American farmers have many rules and regulations to follow regardless of which political party is in power. The result is a safer and much higher quality product but it also means that product is more expensive and that’s where the problem lies in the grocery business.

Foreign importers of fruits and vegetables don’t have all of the same challenges that American farmers have and can sell their products for a much cheaper price. Because our food retailers and grocery stores are focused on their profit margin, they will buy the cheaper product from outside of the United States. 

However, I think a lot of Americans wouldn’t mind paying a higher price for an American product but how often do we get the chance?

According to a NYTimes article from 2018, more than half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of the fresh vegetables that Americans buy come from other countries. And I’m sure that number has gotten much higher in the past three years. 

When you walk into your local grocery store, whether it’s a chain or not, there usually is no “made in America” section that you can go to. In order to know where the blueberries, strawberries, lemons and potatoes are from, you have to do your own research. 

I recently went into a large retail chain and started rooting around in the veggie and fruit bins. In order to see where the produce if from in your stores, you pretty much have to take a magnifying class with you so that you can read the small stickers on the produce. If you buy a bag with multiple products, it’s a little easier to read the larger labels. 

But mostly, the information is there for you to read. The question is: who actually reads it to find out what country their food comes from? Maybe 10 out of 1000 people? I don’t even know if the number would be that high. But it’s something we all need to get used to doing. It’s important to our American farmers and it should be important to us.

We can all understand that in the winter it’s harder to find American produce in our stores but when the products are in-season, they need to be on our local shelves. Even if your store won’t give up their imports, they need to at least allow the USA products in the store as well. Talk to your local stores and produce managers about getting more USA produce in their stores. Start the conversation and try to make a difference in your local communities.

But if you’re having no luck finding the USA produce that you need, another option, very popular in the last year, is the internet and online shopping. Patriot Foods is one such option to buy American-grown produce and, as a bonus, they give back to veterans as well.

Patriot Foods is concerned about the American farmer and our soldiers and are committed to both. They only sell American grown produce and every time you buy from them, they give back by donating a portion of their revenue to veterans and active military. Farming since 1961, the Lalone family is proud of our country and its veterans, having family members who fought in both World War I and World War II.

Patriot Foods founder and President Adam Lalone, says that the American farmer is going out of business because foreign countries don’t have comparable labor laws, food safety, irrigation or water sanitation and then dump their produce in our markets, resulting in the American farmer not having a level playing field.

Patriot Foods is trying to level that playing field by selling 100% American made fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, honey and other grocery items. They ship all over the country for free, fresh and frozen. Don’t be afraid to buy the frozen American-made produce. Lalone says that the U.S. frozen produce products are a premium and are a better alternative than foreign imports.

Those imports are coming from Canada, New Zealand and Latin America including the countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico and they have been able to flood our markets with blueberries and other produce, leading to the bankruptcies of American farms.

Instead of being stuck choosing fruit and veggies from these foreign importers, Lalone says that you can ask your produce manager in person or online to carry Patriot Foods products on their shelves.

The upcoming climate change agenda of the Biden administration will probably bring about even more legislation, making it more difficult to run a family farm profitably. Already, our farms are facing the heavy hand of governmental regulation and they are going to need freedom and opportunity, not more burdensome edicts.

Globalization and a four-year anti-American Democratic agenda is going to kill the American farmer. While the larger growers might be able to keep things going for a while, the smaller farms are going under with no help in sight. 

In a country that was founded on farming, it’s a shame what is happing across our fruited plains but the power lies within all of us to be educated shoppers and to buy American whenever possible.