The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gingerbread Housing

I'm really excited about Chrsitmas "festivities" this year. The boys are old enough(ish) to participate in the fun things like making Gingerbread Men, cracking unshelled nuts, saying "ho ho ho" every single time we pass a Santa, and decorating Gingerbread Houses. Noah's really good at not eating the candy when I tell him...Tait, well he's a work in progress. What can I expect from a kid who is full of drive and isn't even 2 yrs old?! Let's be realistic. 

I have 2 Gingerbread Housing days planned this year. One is with the boys and our really great friend...and the other is with...our really great friend & co. I love that you're Gingerbread nuts, Tracy!

My dilemma over the past couple weeks has been...

 To Bake 
To Buy

Noah and I made a house last year and it was great. He was 2 1/2 yrs old, we assembled the house and decorated it all during Tait's nap. The kit came with a base to place the walls in, an area etched out as a suggested pathway; plus, all the candies you would need. This was pre-major-all-things-China-made-scare. I didn't think twice before purchasing the kit last year. 

Baking, cutting, mixing cement icing, assembling from's all quite new to me. And, it's a bit overwhelming. I love to bake. I love to create. Construction of a Gingerbread House is a new ballpark. The sides have to be the same size and right shape. The roof needs to be as such and it also needs to stay on the sides while the icing dries...these are the least of my concerns.

So, my strategy was this: go to the grocery store and read the box. My architectural fate would be decided by the writing on the box. If it said anything even remotely close to the word China, I would be a Self-Made House Building Mama. If, by some miracle I knew it was made in Canada or the USA (heck, I was fine if the box claimed it was made in Great Britain) then I would happily fork out the $11.99 plus tax. Done deal.

What I've come to learn over the past many months (through mediums such as 20/20, W-Five, and the BBC) is that manufacturers have had to become very creative in the wording of where their product originated. Sadly, the word China now screams: RUN. For instance, did you know that there is only one city on the entire globe other than China, that manufactures Vitamin C. (It is located in Scotland...and the Vitamin C ain't cheap.) Your bottle may say, Product Of Canada or Manufactured for the USA but that does not by any stretch indicate it's origin. 

I digress.

I headed over to the Christmas section and hesitantly picked up a box. It was one of those moments where you actually wish to yourself that the writing on the side would change just for the sole purpose of your own satisfaction. 

This is what I read:
  • Product of the USA
  • Distributed in Canada
Ok, so a year ago this would have been just perfect. No More. No Dice. 

What this actually means is that although there is a location in the USA which produces part of the contents in the box, it by no stretch of the imagination produced all the ingredients in the box. If so much as 1 ingredient in the box was produced in the States, the USA then has the right to say it was produced there. There is no legal obligation to disclose the location of the origin of any other ingredients or contents in the kit. Period. 

Isn't that sick?!

I've now seen a couple documentaries on very health conscious mothers who feed their children nothing but the best. Organic. Whole Grain. Products, (feel free to put that in parentheses) made in the USA only. Yet, their children have ended up with near-death illnesses simply because, while at least 1 of the ingredients in their product of choice originated in the USA or Canada or Britain, the rest came from China. And this info was not offered. 

Heck, there is an abundance of dried fruits and dehydrated vegetables that follow the same route as our Gingerbread House likely did last year...grown in Chile or Brazil or California, the product is then picked and shipped to China. There, the fruit/veggies undergo the dehydration process and chemicals are injected to preserve them. But, since the fruit/veggies did originate in Chile, Brazil, or California the Producers feel it is legitimate practice to advertise as such. I know they just want to stay afloat (and who doesn't in our current market) but at what cost???? 
What I now read is that this Gingerbread House kit was made using ingredients which likely originated in China. If they were shipped to the Chinese processing plant from who-knows-where, then the process used which enables the Gingerbread to remain edible is, in itself frightening. I'm sure the candy in the kit was made in China and the icing, too. Who knows what has touched the handy little base that I swore was the best invention ever. 

So here I go. The mixing, making, molding, and assembling of our Gingerbread House will be done once the boys go to bed...(I'm not a complete sucker). And, the decorating will be a cherished memory (and kodak moment...for anyone who was worried I might not have my camera attached as a 5th limb). 

If the house crumbles...

If the walls can't withstand the candy...

If the icing just doesn't solidify enough...

Then So Be It.

Memories will be priceless. 

And I'm sure the crash at the end of the homemade sugar high will be just the same as if we'd gone China Made.

Fa La La La La, La La La La.


giggles said...

You could get Ben to make you a tray out of wood and use it ever year. He could groove the places with his router.


Tracy and Frank said...

Yes! wood works well - that is what the base will be when we go to the 'competition' on Saturday! and... all homemade houses too :)

I was in Sweet Factory and they had signs everywhere saying that their chocolate coins were from Holland and not China :)