One-third of the people in the world use them, then throw them away. Japan uses about 23 billion pairs each year. And China produces 63 billion pairs annually. They are disposable chopsticks . . . and recently, more and more of them are being made in the USA. Back in mid July, Georgia Chopsticks, of Americus, Georgia, was churning out about 2 million pairs of chopsticks per day, with plans to produce 10 million a day by the end of 2011. Why Georgia? “The Pacific Rim, especially areas of China and Japan, they’ve run out of wood,” says David Garriga, head of the local economic development council, “but we have an abundance of it.” This includes sweet gum and poplar, which are great for making chopsticks because their wood doesn’t have to be chemically lightened, like Asian wood, to achieve the desired color. Susan White, who works at the company says, “Everywhere in America you see ‘Made in China,’ and you wonder if, in China, they ever see ‘Made in America.’” With every chopstick made in Americus going oversees, she really doesn’t have to wonder any more.
If the subtle art of chopsticks usage eludes you, and you’d like some instructions to go with the pictures above, go to eHow’s “How to Use Chopsticks.”
(Philip Graitcer, “Chopsticks Carry ‘Made in America’ Label,” Voice of America, July 18, 2011)