Exploration Where do the things in your life come from?

Consider this to be the equivalent of a global scavenger hunt. The point is to trace the actual real world connection of the item to you. Some people have researched common items like coffee and chocolate as well as seasonal items like Turkeys, or Christmas trees.


International Supply Chain: Producer and Consumer Connections:

Basically this is a lab exercise and you are expected to do at least an hour of research and then write them up.

The purpose is to seek out basic personalized ECONOMIC geographic connections. It follows the analysis of what is it? (Where do things originate and how do they get to you?)Why is it important? Delve into the details, think of this as a case study, and figure out the impacts at various levels from a geographic perspective.

Choose a category from the list below and then look at THREE items that are part of your life. CHOOSE THREE FROM THE SAME CATEGORY OR MIX AND MATCH. AFTER LOOKING AT THREE, DO A WRITE UP ON ONE OF THEM. INCLUDE GRAPHICS, and sources. Maps and comments. Take this as far as you want to, but learn the circumstances AND THE REAL WORLD CONNECTIONS of your consumer world. Yes it is all about YOU, but whether you are researching your food, your engagement ring, or your kids’ lego set… It is all about the world too. Figure that out to the best of your ability.

Cover the following points:

Geographical points of origin or likely points in several places. Look up its production and business history. Size of the industry in terms of its overall value, major producing locations, import/export, (for example peanuts are just about the only relevant crop export in Senegal, and bananas are a huge export market in Ecuador, as are electronic components, clothing, and shrimp in Vietnam), then who the major domestic and/or (multinational) corporations that connect in the supply chain…producing, distributing and retailing etc. Use economic facts and figures and find maps that show related production or flow of goods. Thinking of Pumpkin Spice Latte… The famed Spice islands of colonial exploration, and a little known fact that the British and the Dutch East (West) Indies Companies fought several trade wars but eventually came to a deal to allow Holland to exploit most of these islands in exchange for a shifting colonial rights to a small trading center in North America.

Research one (or more) of your possessions or a product or commodity of personal interest to you. The idea is to look at the international supply chain. Choose from one of the following categories:

1. Where am I wearing? Clothes, shoes, etc. (Underwear, shirts/pants, brand named things, adidas?

2. Where am I eating? Food, choices, general agricultural or food products. (Orange juice, corned beef in a can, acai? cotton?)

3. Where am I communicating/media, (TVs? cell phones, media etc.? Information, etc.)? ( I-phone, gadget, radio, or satellite dish)

4. Where am I furnishing or accessorizing? (Toys, little gadgets, diamond rings, plastic ducks, designer purse, furniture, soccer balls, toothbrushes, etc.)

5. Where is the stuff coming from that is sold in Hawaii as “Hawaiian” (lei flowers, souvenirs, knickknacks, shell items, aloha fabric, bobblehead)

6. Where is it? Investigate the made in the USA movement?


1. For example, I chose # 2, so I looked at a few of the items I ate over the weekend. So for MY THREE ITEMS I CHOSE 1. Shrimp, 2. Limes, and 3. Wine. I would briefly research all three following the outline below. I researched key words: “aquafarming shrimp” and up popped a million potential things….. I discovered the shrimp farms in Thailand or maybe in Vietnam were the likely source of the shrimp I bought frozen from Foodland and ate yesterday. I looked for the import company listed on the box as its address was in Bangkok, but it was owned out of Singapore. 

I found out more about local shrimp production in Hawaii at the following address
This was a fascinating description of the whole industry in Hawaii and the technologies involved, plus I learned about how the DBED is subsidizing several industries (organically produced). Which reminded me that I lived exactly two miles from the Kahuku shrimp farms. So I looked them up.

and found a rating system for choosing among them. At least for the shrimp trucks, but i wanted to buy local by the pound. I drove there and asked the prices at the two outlets.

Economic issues Shrimp was a 10.6 billion industry. { Need to do much more research here major companies?} Today, production is growing at an approximate rate of 10 percent annually—one of the highest growth rates in aquaculture.” www.worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp {add in much more economic information here}

Environmental issues I wrapped up by noting the terrible environmental cost to the mangroves due to aquaculture. Especially the destruction of coastal mangrove habitats. Also the bottom trawling for shrimp really rapes the whole ecosystem, and that is the most popular way to catch them.

Conclusion If I am committed to changing my consumer habits and start buying locally, Oddly enough I noticed that the prices for the locally produced shrimp was set by the market for the tourists at the retail sites so were jacked up too high for me! And the imported ones were significantly cheaper!

2. I then researched my next food…. LIMES, most likely from Mexico….and I researched the history of COSTCO and the vitamin C levels and uses of dried lime peels, and the plight of the lime pickers and GMO breeding of limes for resistance to fruit flies and fruit fly super resistance to the pesticides. I did not really elaborate on this one, but it was interesting to see the types of limes since they are my favorite fruit.

3. Then I looked up my Malbec wine tracing back the bottle to Argentina. I found a cool wine time line:
that showed me how in 1492 — 1600;

Wine travels to the New World and it’s brought to Mexico and Brazil by the conquistadors. Wine spreads across South America from these two original locales. Eventually to Argentina as one of the first wine regions in the new world. It was useful to replace bad water sources and as had been done since the times of the Pharaohs of Egypt, to pacify the workers, in this case in the silver mines in Bolivia. The connection and use in the sacrament of communion of the Catholic Church, and the exact same Mediterranean climates that were found In Italy were found in Argentina, Chile and later Australia. This show ties to their colonialization, patterns. It also explains how wine was established in California via in the Franciscan missions. I found out the value of the wine industry in Argentina is enormous. http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Wine%20Annual_Buenos%20Aires_Argentina_3-21-2014.pdf

and it accounts for approximately 95 of their exports which is huge, following wheat, beef and soy. I also found out that Chile has a comparative advantage for wine because it is part of a free trade Association with the USA; But that they can get around that by using a wine broker. I researched what a wine broker is and discovered the fights and subsidies that our own wine industry is receiving. Did you know there is a subsidized program to grow wine in every state including Hawaii?


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