Monday, December 13, 2010

Pass on the ketchup

Ruth catches another instance of the multinationals unconcern for US workers:
Last Saturday, the CEO of Heinz, best known for ketchup production, told Maria Bartiromo that Heinz will not be hiring Americans this year (at 3:55). The reason he gave was the ‘uncertainty’ produced by the ‘inability’ of the government to decide on really important things such as the tax rate his business will pay. He announced at the same time on the same program that Heinz will be opening facilities and hiring in other countries, and concentrated on China where they make soy sauce.
As Ruth says, it's time for our government to penalize corporations that refuse to create American jobs and US consumers could send a message by boycotting their products. Of course since Heinz is so big, it wouldn't mean just giving up their ketchup. No more tater tots either. I'm pretty sure we'll never get Mark Knoller on board with that boycott, unless we can convince him the store brands are just as good. And usually they're not.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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Anonymous Ruth said...

Gotta admit giving up Heinz is not a big sacrifice for some one who doesn't care for ketchup anyway. I was just appalled though, at the smug way these two agreed that moving your activity abroad by a company that depends of U.S. consumption is such a wise move. Thanks for the link.

4:58:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

It was appalling Ruth and I'm not a big ketchup either. I probably buy one little bottle a year. Happy to say the one in my frig right now is a store brand.

But great catch. It's good to pass it on.

9:28:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I'm afraid we'd all have to go back to living in trees naked if we boycotted everything made by foreign workers from foreign ingredients.

And it's too damned cold for that.

9:57:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That is the problem Fogg. The multicorps own so much of the production that it's impossible to really stage a truly significant boycott.

11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Ruth said...

Since the original ketchup is quite possibly a Chinese sour sauce for fish, there is more than a little irony involved in boycotting Heinz products - but I am making much of what I now eat from scratch, which does come as close to the naked in the trees as I can even in this weather. (70F here today)

7:54:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

You're right, it contained fermented fish. I think it came to us from South china via southeast Asia and was originally much different in formula and similar to today's Vietnamese Nước mắm pha, the smell of which can make your hair fall out, your corneas turn opaque and will etch glass.

I don't want them making it in the US since birds fall out of the sky when you open a bottle.

But you know, Heinz has been multi national for at least 100 years. During the Kerry campaign, the screamers and yellers were telling us that Teresa was responsible for moving production overseas, which is insane of course, since she doesn't own or direct the company and the work was already overseas, but at the time I looked up the history and I believe that since 1909, Heinz has tried to move production close to the agricultural source. I believe in the case of Ketchup, that may be Mexico and South America. So at best, I'm suspicious of the blame game being carried out here.

No, I don't like some of the results of globalization, but it's not a nefarious plot, it's just good business and it's inevitable. Hell, my Chevy has parts from around the world and my wife's Chrysler was assembled in Mexico. Most Toyotas here are assembled in the US. I'm not going to boycott GM because of it.

I live in what used to be the pineapple capitol of the universe and yet this morning's fruit came from Central America. Brave new world.

What I'd like to boycott though, is this Canadian air I'm forced to put up with! we're breaking hundred year old records every night now. I may outsource myself to Equador if this doesn't let up.

10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Ruth said...

Actually, your problem with air would be diminished by eliminating the effects on that air of transporting ketchup from abroad rather than making it and selling it, without importing through the worsening air, to here. Buying and producing locally is a tremendous boon to air quality in addition to local coffers.

5:28:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Alas for Alaskans who would have little but salmon and moosemeat and no vegetables or bread most of the year. How would Sarah cope?

I wonder how many of us could afford a decent diet if we restricted ourselves to local and seasonal. Winter was once the season of starvation and nutritional deficiency and not all that long ago.

Of course we all try to strike a balance. I buy locally caught fish at the local fish market, for example, rather than at the supermarket where they ship it frozen from Vietnam and South America. That's the problem - one of the problems - with free trade. It gets us habituated to really, really cheap commodities with a hidden cost.

All things in moderation though. I'm not about to drink Florida wine. ;-)

9:44:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Just catching up quickly this morning. LOL you two. And fascinating convo. No wonder I love both of you so much.

11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Ruth said...

I guess the Cpt. hasn't seen all those pictures of huge Alaskan veggies I have. And once you make the giant tomatoes into ketchup, it last for a long long time. Of course, you have to be a wingnut to call it a real veggie. Love you, too Libby!

2:15:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Ok, so they can grow some vegetables in Alaska in the summer, but seriously, our diet doesn't need to be dragged back to the bad old days when people got beriberi and goiters and other nutritional diseases resulting from 'locovore' diets. Yes, I will buy Florida orange juice and Florida pineapples rather than from California, but you can't grow apples here and a surprising number of other things that elevate life above a Hobbesian subsistence level.

So many of the things people complain about are making life possible for others who can't afford to shop at Whole Foods and eat Kobe beef. It's easy to forget how it is when you can't get vegetables other than cabbage and potatoes or almost any fruit except in season. I'm only asking that people's infatuation with hip ideas be tempered by reality. I guess I'm also asking that we remember how bad the good old days were.

9:11:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I get your point Fogg, but the trouble is those "fresh" fruits and veggies us poor folk can afford have little nutritional value. And then there's the stealth GM factor that I think is a ticking time bomb down the line. And we do have technology that allows us to grow indoors in cold climes so locavore isn't as limited as it once might have been. But it is true you can't grow certain things like apples in warm climates. But then you have tropical fruit. I think the point is to try to consume foods that travel the least distance and suffer the least amount of processing, as much as possible.

However, I'll grant the point that the good old days, aren't ever as good as selective memory makes them.

2:22:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

As much as possible is the key concept. People forget that pioneers used to die here because of inadequate local food sources. I can't picture life without hundreds of things that aren't available here - salmon, cranberries, hell most everything we consider essential, like cheese, butter, coffee and maybe bread from the hip local "Artisinal" bakery. And once again, we're talking about upping the price of food substantially by government edict or depending on the hungry to opt for more hunger voluntarily.

Such things never happen voluntarily. What we get are a few hipsters who can afford "organic" and local and more people eating junk and getting ricketts.

But looking at Heinz again. Using only US tomatoes would make them uncompetitive and we're forgetting Heinz is a world wide brand. They can't compete by canning US tomatoes and selling them in Indonesia, can they? It makes economic sense to can food near the source rather than to ship perishables closer to the point of sale. They can't simply shut down the factories in (north American) Winter when the demand is year around.

I think the whole thing is as naive as most Utopian ideas are and the personal choices of the 1% who can afford to make such selfless choices aren't going to matter much in a world with nearly 7 billion people who gotta eat and want something better than Soylent Green

11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Oh, and I'm just leaving to become a Bahamavore for a week. If the conch can't come to Fogg, Fogg will come to the conch.

Merry Christmas all.

11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Merry Christmas to you too Fogg. Hope it's a warm and wonderful week for you both.

4:45:00 PM  

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