Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is there no end to food shopping?

MangoesImage by Sarolazmi via Flickr
Champagne mangoes.

I twisted my wife's arm to grab the Costco Wholesale coupon book and make a trip to the warehouse store in Hackensack today, but when she didn't find an item on her list, I had to run out to another store for it.

On Monday, my wife and my mother-in-law made a trip to ShopRite in Rochelle Park, as well as to Hackensack Market, but Costco was closed for the Labor Day holiday.

At ShopRite, my wife picked up cabbage, potatoes, bananas, apple sauce and condensed sweet milk.

At Hackensack Market on Passaic Street, she concentrated on Jamaican products, including 12 cans of a collard-like green called callaloo, in salted water; Grace-brand juice and pumpkin-soup base; Lasco-brand soy drink, Ting grapefruit solda, Foska oats and Excelsior water crackers.

She also bought green boiling bananas and yellow, soon-to-be-sweet plantains.

At Costco on Tuesday morning, a dozen 6-ounce cups of Stonyfield Farm organic, low-fat, fruit yogurt were $7.89 or 65 cents each; two 28-ounce loaves of 100% whole-grain Kirkland Signature bread were $4.19; and two 3-pound jars of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter with sugar were about $4.20 each.

Four pounds of red seedless grapes were $1.75 a pound. Grade A medium-amber maple syrup from Canada, in a 32-ounce bottle, was $12.99.

My wife used Costco coupons for a total discount of $9, but she couldn't find preserves without high-fructose corn syrup.

So, later in the day, I made a trip to the International Food Warehouse on Essex Street in Lodi, where I found 12- and 13-ounce jars of strawberry, plum, peach and raspberry preserves with sugar for $2.29 to $2.79 each.

I also picked up four half-liters of Capitolio organic extra-virgin olive oil from Chile for $2 each. Fresh Jersey corn were six for $2, but the four ears I bought are small and I'm not sure how sweet they are.

Taste of the islands

My wife brought home a single mango from Jamaica that was a revelation, compared to the fruit from Mexico and Brazil I've been buying in North Jersey.

The color of the flesh was close to orange and the taste was even sweeter than Champagne mangoes. 

They are sold by street vendors in Jamaica for $3 to $4 each.

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  1. From an uneducated member of the Anonymous peanut gallery:

    "Bringing fruit back from Jamaica is illegal. No one knows that better than someone from the island. Because people who are from there have a horror of customs, I don't believe your wife would have brought such a thing back for you."

    Victor E. Sasson responds:

    Thousands of people returning to the U.S. from their home countries bring fruit, fish and other food back with them, and U.S. Customs seizes and disposes of thousands of pounds of the stuff.

    Of course, Customs also seizes Cuban cigars, which are illegal, and the story goes, smokes them.

    Virtually all of the stuff seized poses absolutely no danger to U.S. agriculture.

    The last time I tried to bring fruit from Jamaica into the U.S., it was seized, but my wife has been far more successful.

    Although Customs found the Jamaican ackee, the officer overlooked aseptic containers of 100% mango juice from Cuba I also brought back with me (in 2004).

  2. To the idiotic blogger who just admitted that he and especially his wife smuggle illegal agricultural products into the country. We ran a piece on this some time ago. Customs agents have wide discretion to seize the contraband or do much more, particularly for repeat offenders. You have just gone on record as conceding that you are a serial violator and I have made a copy for future use. Given the discretion that customs agents have, it will be interesting to see how they feel about a blogger who boasts of violating the law.

  3. I love how U.S. Customs froths at the mouth over "illegal" imports of food by people visiting their native countries -- all designed to distract Americans from what an incredibly poor job the agency does in stopping the illegal importation of drugs and guns into the U.S.

    A Mexican restaurant owner in the city of Passaic who has his wife bring oregano back from their native country, because it has a taste that can't be matched by domestic oregano, doesn't threaten U.S. agriculture, and any claim that it does is laughable.

    U.S. Customs is an utter failure in safeguarding Americans from heroin, cocaine and other drugs. Why not beef up your efforts there, and leave tourists alone?

  4. This last post is what people refer to when they say that the Internet is an unfiltered mess. Customs agents seize agricultural products to prevent the spread of non-native diseases, which, because of human travel, have decimated crops all over the world. The idea that they are doing it to take the focus off of other forms of smuggling is stupid and consistent with your unsophisticated world view. What do you know about the transmission of plant diseases? Utterly nothing, but you will weigh-in on the topic anyway. It goes to show you that not all knee-jerk morons are conservative Republicans.

  5. Can you cite the spread of "non-native diseases" tied to people bringing fried fish to the U.S. from Jamaica or bread fruit or ackee or mangoes?

    Can you cite the spread of "non-native diseases" from Mexican oregano?

    You are responsible for the spread of misinformation.

  6. It is startling that I should have to say this to a man who once worked as a journalist. Fresh food is particularly prone to carrying harmful insects and microorganisms, which is why it cannot be imported unless subjected to inspection and packaging protocols and procedures. We do not trust individuals to do that important work on their own and we err heavily on the side of protecting agriculture to the detriment of individuals who might like a fresh mango from Jamaica. That is just as it should be and you advocate recklessness and stupidity by suggesting, on a food blog of all places, that those rules should be ignored.


Please try to stay on topic.