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Where are they hiding the garlic NOT made in China?

I want access to garlic that is not from China. I want to see if it's any better. The garlic available where I live is all 'MADE IN CHINA' - I get several nice looking heads home, and break it open to find molded, dusty, crumbly cloves that are either all brown or speckled brown and dried out. It's getting expensive ($2.69lb) to throw it out time and again. I'm tempted to try the pre-cleaned style but prepping garlic is one of my favorite things.

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  1. Fresh garlic should say "grown in" not made in. Are you talking about some kind of packaged garlic? Garlic is grown in CA among other places. Health food stores often try to carry locally grown products, have you tried checking a Whole Foods Market or local co-op?

    7 Replies
    1. re: lgss

      don't they have to assemble those cloves somewhere? ;)

      1. re: cimui

        Lol cimui! Yes, I just know there's somebody out there with superglue, binding those cloves I get, becuse they're such a pain to get apart sometimes, ha.

      2. re: lgss

        You shouldn't count on Whole Foods as a source of food not imported from China. They import some of their organic frozen food from China. You have to ask if the garlic powder is imported from China.

        1. re: lgss

          Whole Foods carries China origin , organic garlic; but who knows what orgqanic means to the growers in China!

          1. re: ospreycove

            It means that the claims Chinese garlic growers (and, more importantly, their organic regulatory agency) have made for their organic standards have been evaluated by the USDA and deemed acceptable.

            1. re: mateo21

              Are you sure? I've always heard that the organic stamp on all food is based on the standards where the product is produced. Organic garlic from China, may be deemed organic in China but may or may not if it were grown in another country; however it is still imported as organic garlic.

              1. re: YummaYum

                I linked to an article below that details how "organic" is assigned in China, as in there's a rubber stamp that's used. The problem from what I understand is the designation from the USA POV is that the grower reports what they do, and there may be periodic inspections, but other than that, there is no one on the ground 24/7 to make sure there is compliance to anything.
                Here it is:
                Personally, to me, I wouldn't believe a stamp of "organic" on any imported product unless there had been an inspector from my country there during the entire production life of the product.

        2. You should be able to return any product that is inedible to the grocery store as long as you keep the receipt. It's a pain, but you'd get your money back. You could try Whole Foods if you have one near you, or any other organic market.

          I had no idea how much garlic is being imported from China until I just did a Google search. Learn something new everyday.

          1. Buy some at a farm stand, with the dirt still clinging to the roots. Great quality and very inexpensive. If you store it carefully, it will last many months.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lisavf

              Ditto. I buy my garlic from the greenmarket and it's just wonderful.

            2. Time and time again? Don't don't know why you'd want to go on shopping there. Odds are they're slipshod in other ways as well. Takes care from growing to shipping to market arrival and sisplay for good produce. At any halfway decent store, produce people keep an eye on things and toss stuff before it starts to go bad.

              1. Buy a bulb and plant it. you'll have eternal fresh garlic.

                1. I would return it to the point of purchase and made sure that you speak to a manager about the level of quality. If your point of purchase is a large chain, make sure that you write a letter (not an email) to the headquarters.

                  1. In California, they have 5 lb bags of garlic grown in Gilroy, which is way way way way better than the Chinese garlic from the Chinese supermarkets. The other day I spotted organic garlic (grown in Mexico) at Trader Joes.

                    1. Chinese garlic will have a flat base with few or no roots. American garlic is rounded on the bottom, with many roots. Keep looking, but the best source is your local farmers' market. California, our largest garlic producer, has had really crappy weather the last 2 years.

                      1. I've bought a number of those 5/net bag set of galic from China, and not encountered much of problem. Long before these were on the market there was the possibility of getting bad cloves. My main defense is to feel the bulbs, making sure they all feel firm.

                        Slow turn over in the store or its warehouse is as likely to be a problem as point of origin. Farmers markets may be a good choice - but only if garlic is in season in your area.

                        1. Christopher Ranch grows all their garlic in California. Don't know if you can get whole heads where you are, but their peeled garlic is available just about everywhere.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Not true. Christopher Ranch grows *some* of it's garlic in California, but it also processes and repackages garlic from China. There have been several discussions about this on Chowhound over the years.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Sure it's been discussed, but I've never seen any support for those claims. And they seem inconsistent with Christopher Ranch's whole marketing strategy. The company's tagline is "California Grown Garlic." Every one of their products I've seen says "Grown in California." And the company's website and media flacks make constant reference to the superiority of garlic grown in California and the inferiority of the Chinese stuff.

                              Still, though, I don't have anything authoritative saying that the folks at CR don't process Chinese garlic. I'd sure be interested if you have something authoritative saying that they do.

                              1. re: alanbarnes


                                "Some of Christopher Ranch's customers just want the cheapest garlic they can get. Garlic with the company's label is California grown, but to satisfy those customers who want cut-rate garlic, the company imports and sells them Chinese garlic, a product that does not carry the Christopher Ranch name."

                                So at least in theory if it says "Christopher Ranch" it's California grown, although people report that they've seen Christopher Ranch packages that say "product of China" on them. I haven't personally looked at every Christopher Ranch product both in and out of season.

                                How can you tell: "To distinguish U.S. garlic from Chinese or other imports, look for the root plate, the bristle-tipped end on a head of garlic. The USDA requires that Chinese growers remove the root plate to guard against any soil-borne pests lurking within."

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Update: In my organic market the other day I saw garlic with the Christopher Ranch packaging that said "product of Argentina" (the loose garlic also listed the place of origin as Argentina).

                                  So, not China, but not California, either.

                          2. I pay $13.99/lb for local organic garlic, because it's that, or stuff from China. I choose local, because I can.

                            1. I know there are advantages to eating locally in general, but I don't think you can blame your dusty, moldy garlic on it being from China. What you describe sounds like a plain old freshness issue.

                              The closest major grocery store to me sells garlic from the west coast (still not local for me, I know) that's often dessicated and /or moldy. But I find that to be a problem with that store's produce more generally (they also sell slimy packaged lettuce--yuck). On the other hand, there's plenty of fresh garlic sourced from China to be found at Fairway, which I'm happy to use.

                              1. i get mine at the farmer's market because it's fresh and local and there is usually a choice between the heirloom varieties. i'm partial to the russian reds right now. but it's $6.99/lb (certified organic), so if you think $2.69 is expensive, mine is exorbitant, i guess. but it turns out to be like 45cents/head, and keeps a long time, so i go ahead and spend a whole dollar. sometimes two. if cost is an issue you could do as another poster suggests and plant a bulb for a self-regenerating garlic supply.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  Ditto regarding getting it at our farmers' market here in Portland, grown about 60 miles away. I buy only from vendors whom I trust, have a selection of several varieties.

                                  In any case, I can't imagine why you don't return it. This is not just a matter of good customer service. It's the law. It's called the "Universal Warranty of Merchantability," meaning that a product must be fit for use for its stated purpose.

                                  1. re: Leonardo

                                    gah! no law school Article 9 flashbacks, please!

                                    that said, I'd return it too. Maybe it's time to hunt some local garlic, buy a big braid, and store it as properly as possible? I didn't realize how spoiled I was to have good garlic nearly year round.

                                2. Garlic from China tends to be a lot drier in consistency as well when chopped up. I just buy whole heads from the local American supermarket. I find that the garlic from the farmers market does not last as long in my pantry, it tends to rot rapidly.

                                  1. At your local farmer's market or CSA? We helped harvest a flatbed trailer full of garlic at my sister's CSA in WI a couple summers ago.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                      like you osprey I do not buy any food made in China (nor clothes nor electrics for that matter as best I can). I check every label in the supermarket and now have to shop with my reading glasses on.

                                    2. Since the thread has been bumped up, I'll note that my local Fresh Market has been selling 'Product of Mexico' garlic lately.

                                      1. Its hiding in my garden.
                                        Probably the easiest thing in the world to grow, you can even grow it in planter pots on a balcony if you like. The fact is, China has cornered the market on garlic. You might find this link enlightening?
                                        In any event, the vast majority of garlic is stored for long periods of time before it hits your local grocery store, hence the moldy/dessicated appearance.
                                        Go to your Farmer's Market, buy locally grown garlic, make sure it isn't treated, then plant it yourself. It stores well, and there is a huge difference between grocery store garlic and fresh local garlic especially that from your own garden.
                                        I have 150 cloves planted this fall, I'll get a year's supply from that.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: freia

                                          I buy freshly picked garlic during the summer from my local farm stand, but that's the only time it's available. Is there a good way to store local garlic so it lasts through the winter? What kind of growing environment do you need to grow garlic in pots?

                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                            Hey there!
                                            I harvest once a year and it lasts me a full year. This is garden stuff, untreated, just like your farmer's market. First thing to make sure of is that the garlic you buy is air dried. Usually fresh picked garlic doesn't go straight to market -- it is tied together and allowed to air dry for at least a month before sold. This lets it last longer. Here's a link that explains how garlic is cured for long term storage. it is the method I use:
                                            Here's a link for growing garlic in containers:
                                            Something to keep in mind is that alot of garlic sold at the grocery store is irradiated or treated so it doesn't sprout. So to be sure you'll get a harvest, use garlic that is locally grown and untreated.
                                            I think the key is to view garlic as a really tasty tulip bulb! That is, you treat garlic bulbs much like you would treat tulip or daffodil bulbs. If you live in a climate where plants go into dormancy because it is cold, you ideally plant in the fall, let them get a little start if possible, then in the spring, their natural growth cycle is triggered by temperature. The reason for this is the length of time they need to get going in the spring. However, you can plant no later than mid-April in order to get a harvest. The other thing to keep in mind is that you don't want to grow garlic in the same bed or soil more than 2 years in a row. Every third year I give my usual planting spot a break and use a secondary spot or just buy fresh at my local market. This is because you don't want garlic loving viruses/bacteria (which is normal, healthy, natural not to worry) to take hold in your bed. If you rotate it, and plant something else every third year and replenish the soil naturally (composted manure, whatever), you'll have no problems at all. For planter pots, I'd replace the soil mix and definitely scrub out the planter every 3rd year.
                                            Hope these links help!
                                            I've been growing and harvesting my own garlic for 10 years now. It lasts in my basement (dark and cool) for a full year. I'm never out of fresh garlic!

                                            1. re: freia

                                              Thanks so much, freia! So you're saying that farm stand garlic will last through the winter if I stash it in a cool, dark place? My basement usually stays cool and dark, but what about in the fridge?

                                              It looks like, had I planned better, I could have still had time to plant a crop this fall. One website I looked at today said to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year. My problem is getting the garlic to start the plants. Oh well, I'm already thinking ahead to next year.

                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                It isn't too late, you know. Seriously! If the ground isn't frozen yet, I'd pop it in and see what happens. I've never heard "the shortest day of the year" thing. Most if not all sites say October. I've planted as late as end November without issue. Now, if there is snow on the ground, you're too late. BUT, plant it in mid April in containers, and you may get a crop for July. I harvest in July, let dry until August, then store it in the basement.
                                                And I wouldn't refrigerate it. Garlic will dry out in the fridge, as do most things. The best thing to do is a cool dark place, and it would be best to store it in a mesh bag or laid flat out on a broiler pan. You want cool air to circulate, but not dry out the garlic.

                                                1. re: freia

                                                  What I meant was that I don't know where to find garlic that I'd want to plant. My farm stand doesn't have any, and the online sources I looked at are all sold out for the year.

                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                    Ah, I see, sorry (blush)...you may find local garlic still at delis or small grocers or such small local businesses in your area. I know our local butcher, who sells samosas and local products, has fresh garlic still in stock...and there's always next year! :)

                                        2. The garlic sold at Aldi is grown in China. I don't buy that garlic. There are several grocery stores in our area but I only buy the garlic from one of them because the garlic seems to be bigger and better from the 'local' 8 store chain rather than from the larger grocers. I like the garlic the last few months that is from this year's crop because it is always more juicy and smashes easily on the cutting board.

                                          1. You can purchase fresh, California grown garlic as different places in Gilroy, California, the Garlic Capitol of the world. Here are some places. Garlic World For more information and pricing, please contact Brian @ 800-537-6122 or by email at garlicworld@earthlink.net. Or even directly from one of the best and most well known California garlic grower, Christopher Ranch. We just harvested this year's crop around July 20 and are finishing the harvesting of the late garlic, which will officially end in September. Garlic World also carries (in a jar) Christopher Ranch's organic garlic products. The garlic that Garlic World sells is only what Christopher Ranch grows and it is an heirloom garlic called Monviso, which originated in the Piemonte region of Italy. It is the same type of garlic that Mr. Christopher has been growing since he moved and started his operation in the 1950s. I hope this helps. You do NOT want to buy Chinese garlic as it is grown in human waste contaminated water, loaded with chemicals to keep it from sprouting and then bleached white, the end result is a toxic product with no taste.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bellalala

                                              This is just BS.

                                              Humans have been growing things in human waste for thousand of years. This is a better fertilizer than the chemical waste we put on the lawn and in our garden. Why do you need to bleach white? Colored garlic sells for more $ than bleached one.

                                              The problem is that garlic can grow in average soil in most of the place in earth. And it is a relatively labor intensive produce. We Americans can't grow the garlic and sell at that price. My local farmer sells her garlic at $10/pound. Mail order garlic is at $20/pound. How can we compete with the $2/pound Chinese garlic? Most of the consumers do not know and do not care. They are not going to buy $10 garlic is there is $2 garlic available.... Simple....

                                              1. re: RedSun

                                                I've been paying $9.99/lb for hard-neck garlic at the local farm market lately, and I'm happy to pay for it when I can get it. There's no comparison between that garlic and the stuff you get in the super market that's old and sprouting.

                                            2. dunno where you live, but yesterday i drove through Gilroy, CA.
                                              they have lots of garlic there.