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Kashmeri: Concentrate On Apples

02/09/11 7:55AM By Sarwar Kashmeri
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(HOST)  Commentator Sarwar Kashmeri has been thinking about jobs in Vermont - and he wants to plant a seed.

(KASHMERI) I was hugely encouraged to see that Governor Shumlin's plan to create new jobs for Vermonters encourages manufacturing. The manufacturing industry in our area used to be the envy of the country. It was in Windsor that manufacturing was transformed from crafting each product individually to mass production. With this technology, sewing machines, rifles, watches, and all manner of consumer goods could be mass produced at prices that everyone could afford. The American Precision Museum in Windsor, illuminates this transformation of manufacturing with its splendid collection, that is well worth visiting.

But those days are long gone. Consumer product manufacturing has moved to Asia. So what to manufacture in America has become the hot topic among politicians, industrial planners, and CEOs. Precision manufacturing, green manufacturing, nano-manufacturing are some of the possibilities being discussed.  Which brings me back to Governor Shumlin's jobs plan. What kind of manufacturing should Vermont focus on to create new employment?

While the experts try to figure this out, I'd like to make a small contribution to the discussion. My suggestion is apples. Yes, I did say, apples. Now before you think I've lost my marbles, let me explain.

On a recent visit to a grocery store, I noticed that my favorite brand of apple juice was made from American apples and apple-concentrate imported from China. Wow, I said to myself, how can they bring apple juice concentrate all the way from China and make an affordable product?

There were two other brands of Apple Juice in that store, and now full of curiosity, I checked their labels.  One used concentrate from South Africa, the other from New Zealand. This is Incredible I thought to myself, and called the consumer relations department of the company that uses Chinese concentrate.

Why do you go to China to buy apple concentrate I asked them.  You'll never guess what they told me: there aren't enough apples grown in America. Demand for apples and apple-concentrate by American companies outstrips production.

So, while we figure out how to get more exotic manufacturing jobs to Vermont, why not fill the state with apple orchards, why not make concentrate from Vermont's delicious apples, why not become the first mover in this business and get the apple slice of the market in an industry that clearly reflects Vermont's core values?

We could start this spring and use anyone and everyone that wants to work. Full employment with apples I say, and now if you'll excuse me, I must go and prune our apple trees.
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