I have visited China 5 times in the last decade. We Americans have this idea that China is a poor and backwards country, nothing can be further from the truth. Chinese manufacturing is modern and efficient. They are educated, sophisticated and knowledgable. Chinese infrastrucutre puts the US to shame.
When the Chinese decide to dominate a market, like flooring or garlic, they do it systematically, with comprehensive understanding, government involvement and pursue a strategy to sell to the entire world. The Chinese producers want happy customers and rely on their US importers to make decisions on esssentiasl aspects of production and manufacture. If you’re reading this blog on computer, smartphone or tablet chances are it’s made in China, chances are you’re happy with it. While we have mental image that our computers are made by machines, nothing can be further from the truth. for example, Every Apple product is HANDMADE by young humans in China, but that’s the content for another blog. Chinese production is not subject to US laws. The Chinese are not misrepresenting what they sell, nor are they trying to scam us. Scamming us is the job of the American Distributors of Chinese produced goods.
Several years ago Lumber Liquidators was distributing flooring with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. Lumber Liquidators CLAIMED that the Chinese misrepresented and mislabeled the flooring. The Chinese company provided video evidence that the US distributor, Lumber Liquidators, asked for their cheapest flooring which is legal in countries outside the US and demanded for it to be mislabeled to appear as the high end, US legal flooring. The Chinese production did exactly as they were asked to do by Lumber Liquidators. The result is that housing was built in the USA with flooring that outgassed dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The fault, Lumber Liquidators.
Gilroy California used to be the “Garlic Capitol of the World”. I drove through the rolling hills of Gilroy about once a month, at dawn, on my way to Laguna Seca Raceway. The still damp morning air, dew saturated with the bouquet of fresh growing garlic, condenses on everything. The combination creates the most incredibly wonderful aroma that magically permeates the world mile after mile. One morning I called a foodie friend back in New York, and told him he HAD to drive through Gilroy at dawn. A foodie experience! Aromas, CA is the name of the next town south (downwind?) from Gilroy. What a coincidence!
China now sells over 80% of the garlic in the world. These days the Chinese dominate the garlic market in the USA. They produce beautiful, perfect looking garlic that is BLEACHED white, which increases shelf life by preventing sprouting, then package it in nice mesh bags. It looks PERFECT! I want to buy it.
Chinese garlic is also fumigated with methly bromide which can cause nervious system and respiration problems. Chinese garlic is often grown in soil mixed with human waste, heavy metals and other toxic waste. For those who have visited China and inhaled the air, that is not much of a surprise. Chinese garlic is also lighter and less dense. Allison, the real component that makes garlic, garlic is also about 25% lower in Chinese garlic. As with other industrial food, Chinese garlic is grown and processed to look good, transport well and last a long time on the shelf, not for flavor, nutrition or purity.
How to find the good stuff
- Know the farmer and ask, is always the best way.
- Look at the label on that mesh bag. If it says “product of China” then leave it on the shelf, vote with your wallet.
- All Chinese garlic has the root scooped out so that soil is not transported to the USA. This is a government regulation and economic requirement. It looks so clean and antiseptic, doesn’t it? But this could also cause you to mistake other imported garlic as Chinese, when it could be superior garlic from Italy.
- There will likely be roots with soil on domestic garlic. There is no domestic requirement to scoop out the roots, the extra shipping cost isn’t an issue, and it is unlikly that a domestic farmer would go to the extra step as removing the roots is labor intensive (labor is practically free in China).
- Taste it. Chinese garlic has a metallic, harsh flavor. Anyone can tell the difference.
The Good Stuff:
When garlic is young, it’s still moist and green, the flavor mild, the look like an onion. After harvest it dries and gets papery and woody to the touch. Garlic shuld be firm. It degrades into powder that can’t be used when it gets old. When garlic turns green inside the cloves or sprouts, it’s also past it’s useful life. Garlic that is green or growing tastes bitter.