Blood Apricots II

Keghart.com  Editorial Board, 20 April 2012

“Our individual and collective efforts to obtain justice for 1915 become a cruel farce when we buy Turkey-made goods.”

Keghart.com published the above in an April 27, 2011 editorial titled “Blood Apricots”. We condemned Armenians in North America who think nothing of purchasing Turkish goods from supermarkets.
 

Keghart.com  Editorial Board, 20 April 2012

“Our individual and collective efforts to obtain justice for 1915 become a cruel farce when we buy Turkey-made goods.”

Keghart.com published the above in an April 27, 2011 editorial titled “Blood Apricots”. We condemned Armenians in North America who think nothing of purchasing Turkish goods from supermarkets.
 

The question now is more dire: what does an Armenian shopper do when her Armenian-owned Middle Eastern store begins to carry a wide assortment of Turkish food products? This new development—hurtful and inexplicable—has materialized since our 2011 editorial. Whether it’s Arz Bakery in Toronto or Kradjian in Los Angeles, some Armenian groceries have begun to import Turkish goods with unseemly enthusiasm. Once a tiny portion of its inventory, now Turkish packaged foods make up anywhere from 25% to 30% of the packaged food items at Arz Bakery.
 
A few years ago one could see the occasional Turkish pickled eggplant or imam bayelduh on Middle Eastern grocery shelves. Now it’s an avalanche, particularly at Arz. Blghour, tomato paste, biscuits, chocolate, jam, hot pepper, apricots, cucumber pickles, pasta, rice, tea, black olives, gherkins, sauces, frozen foods, pastries and even croissant from Turkey have begun to dominate the packaged food inventory of Arz Bakery. The names of Turkish food brands and manufacturers—Alafia, Baktat, Basak, Berrak, Bernak, Burcu, Cicek, Dimes, Dogus, Esme, Filiz, Marmarabirlik, Reis, Tamek, Tukas, Turkes blaze across the aisles, making one feel she is in an Ankara supermarket.
 
In addition to the above, there are Turkish dry fruit offerings which are difficult to identify, since they are sold loose.
 
Turkish domination at Arz has been boosted by other recent developments: the sale of non-food Turkish items such as tea cups; the packaging of Turkish goods under the Cedar and Phoenicia brand names. These names are synonymous with Lebanon. We have no idea why Turkish goods are parading under the Lebanese flag. A few weeks ago Arz committed another faux pas. While in the past the Turkish products were packaged goods, Arz has extended Turkish presence to fresh produce, namely lemons. Cilicia is the lemon heartland of Turkey. Five years ago (most recent statistics) Turkey exported 286,213 tons of lemon, mostly from our Giligia, now Turkified to Cukurova. The lemon at Arz was exported by Aksun Agricultural Products of Mersin, near Adana. Our lands, which were stolen from us through butchery and deportation, are being exploited to sell us fresh produce. And the seller is an Armenian family.
 
Finally, the Toronto grocery store has begun to sell…(gasp)…Azeri pomegranate juice called AzPom. Pomegranate brought to you with the compliments of people who daily threaten the destruction of Armenia/Artsakh. The satiric possibilities would challenge Hagop Baronian, Yervant Odian, and Saroukhan.
 
One could say that spotlighting a few stores is unfair. There are other Armenian grocery stores in Toronto and elsewhere in North America, which are selling Turkish food products. However, Arz Bakery’s and Kradjian’s special place in their respective communities justifies our focus. Arz is not just another store: it’s the most successful Armenian retail store in Toronto, if not in Canada. A significant percentage of its customers are Armenian. It arguably is the best Middle Eastern store in Toronto. It’s clean and the service impeccable. The store has supported, through advertising and other means, various community projects. Until the recent invasion of Turkish goods, it was a store Armenians were proud to patronize. In light of the vast expansion of Turkish presence at Arz Bakery (it means cedar—the symbol of Lebanon) we wonder about the reaction of Armenian shoppers to the sad development.
 
It could be said that Arz and Kradjian have every right to sell any food product. After all, Armenia buys millions of dollars of goods from Turkey. True. But Armenia does so because it has no choice. Besides, as we said in our earlier editorial—Yetteh engert daniken tsadkeh, toon al guh tsadkehs? (“If your friend jumps from the roof, do you follow suit?”
 
Armenian grocery stores have a choice: they can import the same products from Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, even Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria. They can buy produce from Armenian produce exporters in California (Sam’s Son, Fowler Fruit Packaging, etc.). When California is a stone’s throw away, why cross an ocean and the biggest sea to buy from people who not only tried to annihilate us but also deny doing so, have blockaded our homeland, and threaten Armenia/Artsakh in case Azerbaijan attacks our brothers and sisters?
 
We are aware that Turkish business and government are often one. Turkish exporters are subsidized by Ankara. Turkey has a huge export dumping program.  Turkey ignores anti-dumping rules, just as it ignores justice when it comes to our demands. As a result of the underhanded Turkish government-business compact, the country has become the world’s largest producer of hazelnut, cherry, fig, apricot, quince and pomegranate. The price might be right, but do pride, conscience, the blood of our 1.5 million martyrs factor in the purchase decision?
 
An English poet said April is the saddest month of the year. He was not referring to our April. In a few days we will again gather in our churches, community centres, at genocide monuments in Armenia and in Diaspora to remember our martyrs and commit ourselves to securing justice from Turkey. How can we look into the mirror and say we are committed to our national cause when we blithely spread Turkish jam on Turkish-made croissants, drink Dimes fruit juice, prepare various Armenian dishes with Burcu blghour, and sip Basak Turk Kahvesi?
 
Arz and Kradjian management have every right to decide their inventory, but Armenian shoppers also have the right to decide which store to patronize.
At a Toronto cafe two Armenians were recently overhead discussing Arz. One of them said that as an alternative to Arz, he could hardly wait for a Canadian supermarket chain to open a rumored store specializing in Middle Eastern foods.
 
His friend pointed out that the Canadian supermarket might also sell Turkish products.
 
The first man said, “I will still buy from the Canadian store. After all, Turkey didn’t kill 1.5 million Canadians.”
 
 
32 comments
  1. Our Apricots

    Thank you. This is a very timely article. Some might say a boycott of Turkish goods will have no impact on the Turkish economy. True, but that’s not the point. The point is Armenian integrity, sense of nationhood, self respect and respect for our dead and for justice.

    1. More on Bloody Apricots

      I've noticed that Arz advertises in Toronto Armenian media, in the Armenian phone book, and in community event programs/flyers. Perhaps that's the reason no Toronto Armenian media outlet has condemned, even mentioned how Arz, the Armenian-owned store, has become an exhibition for Turkish food products. "Amott poloreen teh chen khoseer yev krel ays tsavali azkayeen loureen masseen." And they call themselves journalists and patriots.

  2.  Turkish Food Importers

     Maybe Krajian(one of the Turkish food  importers) in Los Angeles should be brave enough to label these items as PRODUCT OF OCCUPIED LANDS.

  3.  Armenian buyers

    Armenian buyers are as much guilty as the sellers. Unfortunately we still don’t have the guts, we are "anhok" and the majority is spineless. 

  4. Armenian Apricots

    To mangle the Lenin quote, Capitalists will sell us the ropes, even though they know we will hang them.

  5. Also guilty are…

    The Armenian newspapers, magazines and other publications, including websites, should not accept the advertisements of these shops. Otherwise they will be accomplices of promoting the Turkish products.

    What about the political parties and the church?  they have a lot of power telling their constituents not to promote these shops or put a block on them.

    So far nothing is done…

  6. Boycott

     While we are about it, we should also boycott all Coca-Cola products, since its CEO is a Turk and is one of the major supportors fo the anti-Armenian Turkish groups.

    1. Turkish candy and biscuit

      Turkish candy and biscuit conglomerate Ulker bought Godiva chocolates a few years ago. Not to damage the reputation of the brand, the Turkish owners don’t brag about it. Boycotting Godiva is also a good idea.

  7.  I cannot believe what I am reading

    I cannot believe what I am reading. Kradjian seems to care only for the DOLLAR and does not have any Armenianness left in his soul. I am glad Keghart.com is bringing up the issue. I do hope a lot of Armenians who still have a soul and a conscience would read this and BOYCOTT the products.

  8. Blood Apricots

    What kind of people are we? They killed our grandfathers, grandmothers and innocent children, they continue to kill our sons, they try to starve our nation and we …….Diaspora "Armenians" help their economy and make them rich by buying their products. 

    In all my life I have never purchased a Turkish bran. I have not visited Turkey and will not spend one penny that could flow into their hands. Nothing "made in Turkey" will ever enter my home.

    I feel ashamed for those Armenians who do. Where is their conscience, where is their pride? If they were paid enough they might even become Turks and deny the genocide.

     

     

       

  9. Boycott Turkish Products
    Yesterday during the Genocide commemoration at the Montebello Armenian Monument, I came across a flyer advocating boycotting Turkish products and instead buy Armenian-made. It was a colorful flyer with the logos of Armenian and Turkish edibles on the market. The flyer provided a helpful website. It said, For more information on how to identify Turkish made products visit http://www.Boycott.Turkey.org.

    By dwelling on edibles made in Turkey, are we promoting Turkey? Please check the website and find out.

      1. The Flyer

        The flyer displayed on the website you indicated is the one I found placed on the windshield of my car, secured under the wiper as I left the Genocide commemoration.

        The website you refer to displays only one of the sides of the flyer. The other side of the flyer lists the logos of the Armenian products and promotes their purchase instead. The Boycott Turkey website is indicated on both sides of the flyer for further reference.

  10. The Jury Is Out….

    In the UK (or at least in the region where I live) we do not have the luxury of Middle  Eastern foodstuff as North American Armenians and the Lebanese have so abundantly. I am green with envy every time I go to Montréal and see the abundance of such stores. I call them ‘spoiled Armenians’. I understand it is taken for granted to have the Lebanese bread on the table every day in the homes of Canadian Armenians.

    The superstore near me stocks food items from Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and a token foods from Lebanon. I am extremely biased towards the latter and Greek products. I will buy the Lebanese Cortas or anything else made in Lebanon or in Greece.  But when it comes to the proper bulghour, the fine and the coarse, I have no choice but to buy the Turkish one. Our choice is limited here.

    With such abundance and plenty of choices in North America, perhaps the message should  get to the community to discern where they spend their dollars. Of course, it will be argued that non-Turkish products will have a higher price tag.

    I met a Palestinian in the foodstore I shop. Overhearing Arabic, we said hello and complained that he could not find proper parsley to make taboulleh. When I showed him the parsley on the shelves, he shook his head and said, "Oh, no. That is from Israel. I dont buy them."

    Supply and demand? Economics? Nationalism?

    The jury is out.

     

     

     

  11. Turksih Products

    I hope the Armenian media (newspapers and TV) in Los Angles cover the story about Turkish food products and thus spread the word to a wider audience. But perhaps for advertising reasons they might be reluctant to do so. They rather concentrate on easy targets–wrongoing in Armenia, for example–rather than look at their own backyard.

    I also ver much hope that Toronto and Los Angeles Armenian youth organizations would demonstrate against the proliferation of Turkish food products and call for a boycott of these products which often–as you indicated in your editorial–are grown on lands stolen from Armenians who were either killed or deported by the Ottoman Turkish government.

  12. Turkish Food Importers

    I am disappointed there has been no demonstration in Los Angeles or in Toronto calling for a boycott of Turkish food products. As far as I gather, there have not been reports or commentary in the Armenian media, other than in marvelous Keghart. Get moving Armenians. Talk should be followed by action. Show to Turkey that you will not forget, unless they admit the crime.

    1. Turkish Food Products

      Vahakn.
      In fairness, I should note that I found out that there have been efforts to boycott Turkish products on national level. I found a flyer to that effect during the Genocide commemoration at the Armenian Genocide Monument in Montebello, CA. It referenced to   http://www.Boycott.Turkey.org.

       I checked the website but it directed me to the Turkish Embassy. For a while I thought the flyer was a ploy, a bait of some sort. However, it turns out that website indicated has been hijacked. Please refer to Naz’s comments below.

       

       

       

  13. Tell it to the Hayastancis

    You appear to be looking at this from a rather narrow perspective.

    Those of you that haven’t been to Armenia should go in order to see how much Turkish goods and products are being purchased and sold by the Hayastancis.

    Unfortunately you are directing your justified anger at only a small group of people. Sadly, in Armenia everyone damns the Turks for and about everything, but unfortunately, hypocrisy is rampant. While condemning them out loud, they are buying as much as the Turks can send over the "round about border" through Georgia and Iran. The trucks are lined up waiting to get into Armenia. You will be amazed at the numbers of Turkish 18 wheelers on the Armenian roads.

    This should be your next editorial: "The Hypocrisy of the Armenians in Armenia." They’ve already sold the country to the Russians and will buy whatever they can get from the Turks. So much for nationalism.
    Another column should be about what they’ve done to the Armenian language.

    Do I sound angry? Yes, I am!!

     

    1. To Berj

      Berj, upon readingI your commentary with interest, the following came to my mind.
       
      I said to myself, Berj more likely is a Spurkahay-a Diaspora-born Armenian much like me. He, much like me, was nurtured at home and at school with an utopian vision of an Armenia where love of the country and its people would transcend any other consideration and that an Armenian army officer would never abuse his subordinate and that an Armenian consumer would always frequent and buy Armenian-made goods, and an Armenian would never cheat another Armenian. After all, my generation was always reminded that "Haygaganuh badvagan eh"–the Armenian way is the honorable thing to do.
       
      The stark reality is that we are not. I learned my lesson during the past twenty years, when, after centuries the old dream became a reality and we became euphoric.
       
      I have come to accept that Armenians will buy Turkish goods and will fly Turkish airlines, as long as they help his bottom line, no matter what is said and written.
       

      Better and more affordable Armenian products and services are the only answers to control the floodgate of Turkish-made products and services, and may even reverse the trend. 

      1. Reply to Garabed

        Garabed, you’re pretty much right on target. However, it didn’t take very long, after I started commuting back and forth to work, to understand that there is a big difference between the SpyurkaHai and the Hayastantsi. They talk of nationalism and then they run away from the country; we talk of nationalism and we go to help and in a number of cases live in the country.

        You are correct that our idealism masked the reality; we still have difficulty accepting the fact that Armenia is no better than any of the other former Soviet Republics and most other Third World countries. You would be amazed at the number of Hayastantsis who tell me how great everything was when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union. 

        You say: "Better and more affordable Armenian products and services are the only answer….". The product part of that equation, at this time, is unrealistic. The entire manufacturing sector of Armenia was devastated when the Soviet Union broke up. Add to that the closed borders east and west. There are more old factory buildings that have been abandoned than you can imagine.

        The services (I will add research and development) is the area that should and could have exceptional potential for a multitude of reasons. However, the drawback, as they say, "tsavok srdov asumem," there is limited imagination or desire. This avenue will only materialize with Western companies coming to Armenia and developing it.  That won’t happen easily, because the government, although it says it does, doesn’t make it easy. 

        This can be a rather lengthy, ongoing and multi-faceted discussion with the buying of Turkish goods only a small part of it. If there is interest among the readership, this would be an excellent dialogue to continue.  

        P.S.  Just for the record: I will not be an ostrich and as much as I complain, "Mern eh."

         

        1. To Berj (2)

          I visited Armenia for the first time in early ’70s. We were on a tour whose first stop was Yerevan. I was a fresh college student.
           
          The Armenia relatives I knew of were the contemporaries of my parents. Most have passed away or left the country. They treated me royally. They did not let me sleep at the hotel we had checked in. They argued amongst themselves as to who was to host me that day. Tables lavished with all kinds of food and drinks, surrounded by relatives awaited me to my uneasiness.
           
          They also did not shy off to let me know how well off they were. I, in my youthful naivete, would tell them that I was not visiting Armenia to see or judge how well they were doing. The trip was meant to be a homecoming of sorts for me.
           
          It did not take long for me to sense a difference in our attitudes. They lived in Armenia, they spoke Armenian, they worked in Armenian factories, their bosses were Armenians and the officials they dealt with were Armenians. Armenians and Armenian were everywhere and a daily reality for them. What else was there for them to do, other than do the most humane thing, improve their lot and find ways and means to do so even though all were salaried employees of the state?
           
          Therein laid, I realized, the fundamental difference in our attitudes. I did not live in Armenia but dreamt of an Armenia while they lived and experienced it as any citizen of any country. However, the degree to which we seem to have differed was the eye opener I alluded to in my previous comment. 
  14. More Blood Apricots

    Yesterday (May 18–three weeks after your ‘Blood Apricot’ editorial was published) I went to Arz Bakery to check their Turkish inventory. Your figure of 25% to 30% of packaged goods being from Turkey is right on the money. Since there were a number of new Turkish brands, which were not mentioned in your editorial, I thought your readers would like to know that the Armenian-owned Arz management’s decision to sell Turkish products is unrelenting and expanding. Arz has now added several new lines of Turkish jams (Gesas, Takek, Lalin, etc.). I am wondering whether Armenian shoppers are aware of what’s going on. Any day now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arz changes its name to Seljuk Bakery, Diyarbakir Fooroon, Kahraman Boghazuh.

    1. I agree

      I totally agree with you Ashod.  Arz bakery brings shame to Toronto Armenians.  I will stop shopping there and will make sure I will ‘educate’ my friends and colleagues about this issue and we need to make them stop doing this treacherous act just for their own pockets!

       

  15. Bloody Apricots III

    I am deeply disappointed by the various Toronto Armenian print and electronic media for not picking up and further exploring your recent editorial about ARZ Bakery, unofficially known as Ottoman Boghaz Charshee. Their silence could drive one to conclude that they don't mind the fact that ARZ has become a Turkish Food Expo. They are ready to criticize the tiniest wrongdoing of the government in Armenia, which they well know isn't even noticed by the Yerevan government, but shut their eyes to what's happening in their own backyard. I guess it's easy to pontificate, to blow hard about exalted notions from 8,000 miles away and very, very difficult to make sensible, practical comments about happenings a mile away. Perhaps they are reluctant to spotlight this important matter because the said Armenian-owned establishment advertises in Armenian publications, phone books, etc. Likewise the Armen Caro and other youth groups. Why aren't they raising their voices?

  16. Bloody Apricots

    Looking through ARZ Bakery's this week's (June 2, 2012) flyer, I noticed some interesting developments which I would like to share with Keghart readers.

    Fruits from Mexico, USA, Spain, and Ontario are identified as such. Products from Palestine, Lebanon are also identified as imports from those countries. However, the flyer somehow doesn't identify that Tamek stuffed vine leaves, Mis tomato paste, and many other products are imports from Turkey. I am scratching my head trying to understand the omissions. There must be an explanation for the inconsistency; it's just that I can't think of the reason.

     

    1. Apricots of Blood

      I agree with you, Vahakn. This week's (June 30, 2012) Arz flyer is again listing the source of its various products (Argentina, Canada, Chile, Lebanon, Mexico, Ontario, Palestine), but guess what: Turkish products (Cicek, Doria, Mis, etc.) also featured in the flyer, have no country identifier. Perhaps the printer forgot that country's name or doesn't know how to spell it. Of course, inside the store Turkish products are the largest source of the goods. Arz, owned by an Armenian family, is becoming more and more like the Istanbul store in the west end of Toronto. If I were a Turkish Canadian I would protest to the store management's apparent policy of not identifying that much of the store's inventory as PROUDLY TURKISH. I wonder why the Arz management is hesitant about the identity of its Turkish products. The whole thing reminds me of the '80s saying about Kentucky Fried Chicken: "You can run, but you can't hide."

      1. Bloodied Apricots

        Mesrob, in my view those who run these stores are making a living by offering commodities some segments of the public wants. The truth of the matter is that if they do not carry it on their shelves, some other store will carry it on its shelf.  In an open and free market when there is a demand, someone will meet that demand. 
         
        Let us not demonize the Armenian owners of such stores and ostracize them. The apricots are bloodied only upon purchase and not while remaining seated on the shelves.

        1. Available, Competitive Goods

          Vahe,

          Since you live in the United States you probably don't know that there is a wide range of Middle Eastern foodstuff in Toronto from Greece, Bulgaria, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran. And they are competitively priced compared to Turkish foodstuffs, despite the fact that Ankara illegally subsidizes its exports–that is, it dumps them in foreign markets perhaps to eliminate the competition. In selling and in buying these Turkish goods, one advertently becomes a fellow conspirator to Ankara.

          And, as an Armenian, please remember (also read the editorial) that a great many of these Turkish goods are grown in areas (Cilicia, for example) where a great deal of the land was owned by Armenians who were killed or driven out.

          The above facts, I believe, totally dismantle the concept of free market of goods.

    2. Hide and Seek

      Keghart readers in Toronto might be interested to learn that the cat-and-mouse game of selling Turkish products at ARZ bakery continues. In this week's flyer (also of last week's) ARZ has stopped featuring Turkish products, but Turkish products continue to dominate many of the supermarket's shelves.

  17. Apricots Galore

    It's interesting that while 7,000 people (not to mention others on other sites) have read your Blood Apricots editorial, the Armenian owners of Toronto's Arz Bakery have not seen it fit to respond to the disturbing questions raised by the editorial.

  18. Turkish American Here

    Hello all,
    I stumbled upon your site. It is very intriguing, indeed. We, as Turks and Turkish-Americans, could care less whether or not you purchase Turkish products. We don't purchase your products. We don't speak your language. We don't travel to Armenia. We don't want you and we don't need you. Your people are fascinated and obsessed with Turks and Turkey.  Every other word that comes out of your mouths is "Turkey" or "Turk". Go to a Turkish persons house and the words "Armenia" or "Armenian" will never be heard. Despite your propaganda, we are one of the most proud nations in the world and we will forever be proud. With 32 [sic] million people, Turkey is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. Included in that 32 million, are tens of thousands Armenians. Please encourage them to stop coming to Turkey. They can just as easily go to Greece for vacation.

  19. Turkish Food Imports

    Hear yee… hear yee… hear yee… I would like to inform Greater Metro Toronto-area shoppers that Armenian-owned Arz Bakery's Turkish special of the week (featured in its flier) is something called "Bizim Mutfak". At 99 cents, the flier says you save 20 cents. Hurry, hurry to Lawrence Ave. East emporium before "Bizim Mutfak" supplies are sold out. Other specials include Parsian (sic) "Halal Chicken"  and "Assorted Juice" from a country called Rani.

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