How to Have an All-American Fourth of July

Don't fly flags or eat meat from another country for Independence Day. Here's how to buy American.

How to Have an All-American Fourth of July Photo (cc) by Loren Sztajer

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Debt.com.

Every July Fourth, we celebrate our independence from Britain — with our dependence on China.

That’s where the United States gets nearly all of its fireworks. (Which might be fair, since fireworks were invented there.) But the U.S. also imports tons of American flags from there. Not to mention clothes and so much else.

So what if you want to have an all-American Fourth of July? What if you want to celebrate America with only American-made products?

It’s possible, but certainly not easy as (apple) pie. Let’s work our way up to the harder stuff.

Flags

The most basic symbol of America is often made in China, even when it’s flown on federal property.

The top-selling American flag on Amazon? Nylon, 3 by 5 feet, $10. (But you can buy 10 for $85 and they’ll throw in a free “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.)

Of course, it’s made in China — as many of the reviewers will tell you. Fortunately, a lot of people get the irony of Chinese-made American flags. There’s even a Flag Manufacturers Association of America.

If you want to be sure you’re getting a high-quality American-made flag, try FlagStoreUSA.com. They charge $19 to $30 for a 3-by-5-foot flag, depending on the material. FlagStoreUSA’s flags are made by Annin, an American company older than the Civil War. The U.S. flags planted on the moon? Those are Annin’s.

If you can’t wait and want to hunt down a local flag store that sells American, Annin and Valley Forge (both FMAA members) have their own search tools.

Alcohol

American-made quality beer shouldn’t be a problem either, because craft beer is made in every state. But if you really want to buy American brews that play up the holiday theme, here are a few ideas, all about $9 for a six-pack:

If you’re looking for something a little harder, these American-made liquors should be easy to find:

If you drink wine on July Fourth, Snooth has a wine search that you can limit to American vintages. It’s searchable by ZIP code and price, so grab a bottle of red, a bottle of white, and — well, get another bottle of white to put a little blue food coloring in.

Or maybe some blue cheese (made in America) for your burger.

Meat

Whether you want a big, sizzling steak or a juicy cheeseburger, there’s a good chance you’re already buying American-raised meat, and it’s easier to check than in years past.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture strengthened the labeling requirements for packaged meat. Packages should now specify where the livestock was born, raised, and harvested in the country-of-origin labeling format. A few things to keep in mind, though:

  • The labeling requirements apply to most beef and chicken, but not processed foods like hot dogs.
  • Butcher shops and meat markets aren’t forced to follow the new law.
  • Grass-fed beef often comes from Australia.

Fireworks

Last year, America imported about $214 million in fireworks — and all but $10 million of it came from China.

If you want American made, you’ve got only a couple of options. For instance, Black Cat Fireworks has a limited “Made in the USA” section. But they don’t take online orders. You’ll have to find a local stand by searching on the company’s website.

The one product most likely to be made in America is one of the simplest, cheapest, and safest — sparklers. Diamond Sparklers, based in Ohio, can churn out 800,000 of them in a single day. Phantom Fireworks (which is owned by the same company, B.J. Alan) sells them at some CVS and Circle K locations.

But they’re packaged under various names, and there are still plenty of sparklers made in China or Thailand, so always check the label. You can also just order them online because they aren’t technically fireworks.

It’s illegal to ship fireworks through the U.S. Postal Service because they’re explosive, but FedEx and UPS will ship some properly labeled dangerous goods in very limited circumstances. Usually, though, they have to be shipped by semi-truck, which is slower and more expensive.

That’s part of the reason you won’t find any fireworks on Amazon — just novelty items like poppers and snappers. Even retailers that do sell online usually impose big minimum purchases, and returns are out of the question.

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