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My 2019 Made in France Diary

For 2019 I decided to try to find Made in France products each time I made a purchase and keep a Made in France Diary.

The idea sprang from my exercise diary. I write down on my calendar each time I get some exercise, riding my bike, taking a walk for errands or fun or taking a class. Keeping a diary helps me to keep that focus and make sure I move. I have a nice record of my constitutional outings. It is very satisfying to be able to look back and see that I pretty much get my requisite 30 minutes each day, plus needing to make an entry on the calendar gets me up and out; I get both satisfaction and encouragement.

made in france

I decided to apply that to my Made in France year. I’m keeping a diary, technically a monthly of what I buy and if it is MIF. I’m not going to be obsessive and buy ONLY MIF, like this guy Benjamin Carle who in 2014 made a project of transforming his life and apartment to only MIF. Benjamin was a bit obsessive about it, but that’s how he made a point. He wrote a book and made a film of his experience of his year “chaussé d’espadrilles, sans frigo, sans ordinateur et au guidon d’une Motobécane d’occasion” (because he couldn’t find a product made in France he went without), researching and talking with industrials. I am not going whole hog (certainly not giving up my morning coffee like Ben did) but I’m going to try to make a MIF choice if I can find one and if it is a quality product. I’m asking salespeople about the origin of the products they sell and doing research online or in magazines before purchasing. I’m also not ordering online and having something shipped across France just because it is MIF when I can get another product locally. I’ll contradict myself on this I’m sure, but it bothers my ecological self to see delivery trucks showing up left and right to deliver one tiny item that can be bought down the street. I’m also not going to settle for a product I don’t like just because it is MIF. I think things have evolved a bit for the better since Benjamin did his experiment. There is more MIF today, a bit of a prise de conscience and sense of pride. There seems to be more that is made in France now than just 5 years ago – or at least we sure talk about it more. I’d like to see that elan keep going – it’s good for France and it will make a nice article. I thought I’d share my year with FUSAC readers. So here we go for weekly updates on my year of purchasing MIF. It will be interesting to see what I find and if it really costs more as most people tend to think. PS: I’m not getting any free samples to write this article.

February #3 – A new toothbrush made in France

made in france

Well here I am contradicting myself already with buying a toothbrush online. But I had to try THIS toothbrush. A toothbrush is not something you expect to find Made in France nor is it something you expect to be ecological. Bioseptyl in Beauvais, just north of Paris, is not only making toothbrushes and other dental hygiene products in France, but their handles are made of a recycled plastic and are recyclable. You can even sign up for a subscription for getting your new toothbrush sent to you every three months and recycling the old one. There are products for adults, teens and kids. “Edith” has a changeable head, you keep the handle (made from a plastic derived from oyster shells) and screw on a new head. The “Recyclette” is a very simple toothbrush and your send the handle back for recycling when you buy a new one. La Brosserie Française is a brush making company since way back. They had sent all their production to China and they were still struggling. In 2012 however with a new director they reversed direction and decided to go MIF bringing the production back to France. They now have 4% of the French market and have the capacity to quadruple that. Their factories use green energy and they have removed all aggravating and polluting blister packaging in favor of recycled boxes. You can even get a toothbrush with bleu, blanc, rouge bristles! Over the top! Subscriptions online: https://www.bioseptyl.fr/ Available all over France in Biocoop and other stores, see the list online.

There is also a MIF toothbrush made of bamboo available in Day by Day bulk grocery Shops https://www.comme-avant.bio/pages/brosse-a-dents-en-bambou-naturel

And while we’re on the subject of teeth and because 20 March is World Oral Health Day, ask your dentist about Sm;)ers (Smilers) – 3D-printed transparent substitutes for braces, that are also MIF! https://smilers.com/

January #2 – A new pair of jeans made in France

There are 2 MIF brands of jeans that I know of: the start-up 1083 and Atelier Tuffery which has been making jeans in France since 1892. Indeed jeans go back a long ways. Did you know denim was invented in France and the word denim has its origin in “de Nîmes”? Both jean makers have online sales, but buying jeans online is risky business and not really ecological. Think of the carbon imprint of having one pair of jeans delivered in a box to your door as opposed to hundreds of pairs delivered in a large box to a central spot. It is doesn’t take much more cardboard or gas to deliver 100 pairs than it does to deliver 1! OK, off that high horse and back to my subject. We visited a MIF pop up store Les Boutiques Vive la France at the shopping mall Italie II (there until March 2019) to find jeans. The shop at Italie II carries just 1083s didn’t have our sizes, but we had a nice look at the product and narrowed down the size we would need. One perplexing thing about 1083s is that they use US sizing. The jeans are handsome, have nice lines, a red thread theme runs through them and they have 1% elastane for comfort. Men’s are in denim and black, women’s in red, bordeaux, khaki and black. To get the jeans in the right size we had two options either the 1083 shop in the Marais or another pop up L’Appartement français on the Champs-Elysées (also a pop up, on the Champs until June, but looking for a permanent address). The helpful salesladies at L’Appartement français found me a khaki pair in my size and one for John in black. They both need hemming – our legs are always much shorter than the models! – and we were warned to wash and wear before shortening as these will shrink vertically. At 109€ per pair they are at the upper end of the price scale. I hope they last a long time! They sure are comfortable and very attractive though and I do have the warm fuzzy feeling of them being made less than 1083 kilometers from chez moi. And that explains the name of the company: No two points in France can be more than 1083 kilometers apart and so every pair of 1083s is forcément made less than 1083 kilometers from you. They even weave the fabric in France, but admit the rivets and buttons are Italian.

made in france

January #1 – Fresh food shopping

The first shopping trip was for groceries. We most often shop at Grand Frais, a sort of supermarket market. They have fresher products than a grocery and a market atmosphere plus are open long hours (morning trips to the market just aren’t my thing). Grand Frais is in fact 4-5 different businesses grouped under one roof with a common cashier. Yes, it is really grande surface, a chain, but not a behemoth store. Buying MIF is pretty easy at the butcher counter. Beef, chicken, rabbit and pork are most often French produced. Lamb usually is but you have to check. Sea food though comes in from Normandy. Fish is however another story. Rarely do you find French fish, despite all the coastal waters. You’ll have some better luck at the fishmonger’s, but they are expensive.

made in france

For fruits and vegis you have to be careful. What is French grown one week will not be the next. Luckily in France the origin of products must be clearly labeled. Grand Frais selects products based on quality and price, so they offer plenty of fruits and vegis from Europe and North Africa, plus of course the exotics and the out of season stuff from the other hemisphere. But if you are willing to choose what you eat by their origin you’ll find plenty of products from France and thus you’ll be eating product in season. The same goes for open air markets, just because it is a street market doesn’t mean it is local! Most products at your weekly market come in through the centralized market at Rungis south of Paris and they come from every where! Again look at the signs. So this week I found clementines from Corsica, bananas while not exactly local are technically MIF as they come from Guadalupe, pears and apples. Kiwis can be French – or not – you really have to pay attention to kiwis! In the vegetable department there were brussels sprouts and beautifully white cauliflower. I found pink onions from Roscoff in Brittany. I hadn’t had these before, but they were firm and pretty. Wow do they taste good too. They made the best onion quiche and oignon confit I have ever made. I suppose they were a bit pricier than other onions, but I’m hooked on them now! This time I chose curly parsley because the flat leafed kind was from Italy.

made in france

Cheese and dairy you’d think would be easy and it was, although there were a plethora of non-French cheeses on offer. Butter was a cinch – again from Normandy and Brittany (what would we eat if we didn’t have Normandy and Brittany??!!). Yogurt had plenty of choice too and I took one from Savoy – the only one that comes in a large multi-serving jar. I try to purchase the least packaging I can, plus a large container allows me to eat the amount I want and close the container back up. I’ve never understood why fromage blanc and faisselle come in large jars or tubs and yogurt doesn’t. (One of my other hang ups is packaging but I won’t go into that here)

So for fresh food it is pretty easy to stick to Made in France products if you are attentive, flexible and thoughtful, but you might not satisfy every craving. I confess that we also bought green beans from Morocco on this visit. They just looked too good and it has been a long time since we’ve had green beans.

made in france
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3 Responses to "My 2019 Made in France Diary"

  1. Shari Leslie Segall dit :

    Great idea!!!

  2. Hey Lisa,
    I love this idea “Made in France Diary”. And Jeans who would have thought there’s a brand that is made in France.
    Take Care,
    Rachael

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