Never made in the USA

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 5, 2008

In the spirit of our country’s birthday, I’ve decided to right a column about a country that sells every product imaginable, but does not make any of them.

Recently, I set out to replace my dinnerware, which seemed like an uncomplicated enough task…or so I thought.

The mismatched set I have now boasts a labyrinth of cracks in the bottom of the bowls, not to mention they date back to my college years, which is not really that long ago…but long enough in my 26 year-old mind.

Needless to say, my search for a new set has not been so simple.

In all fairness, I have to blame it on my Aunt Dolly. During her visit this time around, between her rearranging my kitchen and giving me advice as to where things should go, she suggested I replace the old set.

“And you should probably get a set that’s not made in China,” she added.

At first I didn’t think twice about her comment regarding where the dinnerware was made, but then the countless stories of lead laced products from China flashed through my mind.

Aunt Dolly was probably right; I should probably spare any future offspring from being born with three eyes and an extra limb.

So, I set out on what I knew would be tough—find affordable dinnerware with that “Made in the USA” stamp on it.

I began my search at the typical stores, but came up empty handed as each plate and box I turned over had the “Made in China” mark. And if it was not China then it was “Made in Thailand,” “Made in Mexico” or “Made in everywhere else, except the United States.”

The latter I made up, of course, but after flipping over dozens of plates only to be disappointed…my nerves were wearing thin to say the least.

While my search up to this point has been fruitless, the whole experience of just trying to find a dishware set made in the country I live in has been some what of an awakening.

Though as miniscule the task of looking for new dishware is—my observation about outsourcing is not.

You have to love how seemingly every American manufacturer insists on sending work overseas rather than help their own country’s economy.

It all made me wonder what else around me was “made elsewhere.”

Sitting here at my desk at the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald office, there are a number of items I can point out that are products of “outsourcing.”

We’ll start with my office telephone, made in Mexico. My silk sun flowers were made in China as is my picture frame holding a photo of my mom, which was printed on Fuji film (made in Japan). Four items in and my desk already looks like a United Nations meeting.

Then we have my (less than) state of the art computer with its huge Sony (headquartered in Japan) monitor.

I think the only thing on my desk that is American made is my calendar…I wonder if they make dishware.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.