Upper West Sider Steven Weisz was shopping at Zabar’s the other day when he looked down at the bottom of a sign for garlic: it said “Product of China.”
He wrote to us: “Can you believe that from all the farms in New York, ZABARS is selling GARLIC from CHINA!!!!!???” (emphasis his)
No, we could not believe it. Until we opened the photo he sent above. Then we believed it, in a literal sense, but not in the sense of Can you freakin’ believe that??
New York grows some perfectly good garlic. There is even a Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in a few weeks.
But local garlic is expensive, said Zabar’s General Manager Scott Goldshine when we talked with him today. And Chinese garlic is just as good.
“The fact is that local U.S. garlic is almost double the price of Chinese garlic, and the Chines garlic is just as good,” he said. Customers, he said, won’t pay double just to get the U.S. version.
Weisz, however, couldn’t stomach buying the foreign product.
“By the way… I just bought my Garlic at the 77th Street Green Market,” he told us later. “Local NY Garlic.. not ‘out-sourced.’”
Update: A friend notes that as of the most recent statistics available from the state agriculture department (from 2007), only 306 acres of garlic grew in New York. So maybe we’re not the garlic capital of the world. Still, it’s odd that U.S. garlic producers still can’t beat Chinese prices given that that their shipping distances are much shorter.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
To read our column on why Zabar’s is essential to the Upper West Side, click here.
And to relive last year’s saga of the mislabeled “lobster” salad, click here.