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The Produce Is Bad

Note: For the visually impaired and the illiterate, I am experimenting with podcast technology. An audio version of this blog post can be found by clicking here:

If there is a positive response to the audio version of this blog, I may continue to offer entries in this format.

A new menace has come to my attention, something horrible and unimaginable. As unfathomably terrible as this news is, the American public has a right to know.

Most of the produce in our stores is counterfeit.

That’s right, counterfeit.

No, I’m not some nut job claiming the Noid or the Keebler Elves have secretly replaced our fresh produce with wax or plastic facsimiles. It’s much, much worse.

Idaho potatoes? I don’t think so.

Florida oranges? Uh uh.

California raisins? I heard it through the grapevine they aren’t Californian.

Doesn't look like they're in sunny California to me!

Doesn't look like they're in sunny California to me!

If they’re really from California, why the scarf, earmuffs, and gloves? Or all that snow, for that matter? Hmm???

This revelation casts the spate of foodborne illness reports in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

Who is behind this menace? What nefarious force is surreptitiously spoon-feeding us fraudulent fruits and veggies?

If you guessed China, you’re wrong. A fair guess, all things considered, but still not correct.

No, the source of this evil is a member of the Union. A state so desperate for export income, they’re willing to deceive the rest of the country.

I’m speaking, of course, of Colorado.

How, you ask? How could a state government stoop so low?

Politicians.

You see, under the guise of ‘immigration reform’ (fiendishly devious of them!), Colorado passed a law in 2006 (House Bill 1023) that allowed vegetables to establish residency, retroactively, in other states. Those shifty Coloradans grow their puny, inferior fruits and vegetables in an environment simply not conducive to healthy, vibrant crops, and then transport them through other states on the way to market.

Potatoes are driven in refrigerated trucks through Idaho, and are retroactively granted Idaho residency by Colorado, thus enabling Colorado farmers, and I use that term loosely, to stamp them Idaho Potatoes.

Oranges pass through Florida, and get the same fast-track citizenship treatment.

And the pistachios, the ones masquerading as California-grown, the shriveled, pebble-like nuts I shudder to call ‘gravel’, let alone ‘pistachios’ – they are shipped to California, housed in a warehouse for a single day, and then granted ‘California’ residency. By the state of Colorado.

Oh, and don’t let the massive PR campaign Colorado has unleashed since the passage of House Bill 1023 sway you. Sure, it’s a slick campaign with an appealing message, but it’s lies. All lies. Check out the most recent video put out by Colorado on YouTube if you want an example of the depths that state will sink to in order to beguile the rest of the country:

What can you do to protect yourself? Nothing. You’re screwed. It’s all perfectly legal. Colorado recruited elitist East Coast lawyers to find loopholes in the US Constitution that would allow them to write an air-tight state law.

Honestly, I have to tip my hat to the diabolical geniuses behind this, because it is brilliant.

Wait, wait, don’t abandon all hope just yet. There is one thing you can do to minimize your exposure to these substandard foodstuffs that are so deplorable, state and federal prison systems refuse to serve them.

Vigilance.

Is that ‘Idaho’ potato looking a bit shriveled? Crows feet around those dark, beady eyes? No, it hasn’t sat in the store too long. It’s from Colorado.

That ‘Florida’ orange looking a bit too non-Euclidean in its misshapen geometry? Colorado and its rocky soil and inhospitable climate strike again.

That ‘Georgia’ peach look and taste more like a gob of moldy mashed potatoes squirted into sheep’s intestines and then fashioned into the rough shape of a peach? OK, that has been on the shelf too long – it’s an ‘Idaho’ potato once the Sell By date has expired. Colorado’s law has a provision forcing retailers to re-package those abominations as peaches.

The only other thing I can recommend is that you flood the Colorado State Legislature and Governor’s office with phone calls, emails, letters, and tweets, demanding they repeal this Draconian export law and restore honesty and sanity to our food ecosystem.

In the meantime, I am reliably informed that canned peaches labeled “Canned in Mexico” are not from Colorado, and not expired potatoes. They’re from Arizona and, at the time of this writing, considered relatively safe. Though they might actually be nectarines.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!

Marlowe and the SpacewomanClick here to check out my forthcoming book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming out January 9th, 2012 (Balloon Ascension Day)!

 

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Tread Carefully, O Muse, or at least wear shoes…

So last week I talked about the joys of mowing my lawn.  This week I want to talk about maintaining my lawn.

These are not the same thing.

You know what’s stressful? Trying to keep your kids from drawing on every single flat surface they can find once they’ve gotten their little hands on a crayon.

A crayon, to a toddler, is an invitation to leave their mark on the world. And by mark, I mean marks. And when I say marks, I am not conveying clearly enough the extreme plural nature of the marks. These kids draw on walls, floors, drawers, doors, windows, screens, television sets, chairs, shoes, other crayons, and occasionally, themselves.

And this is an extremely small subset of the things they will draw on with those god-forsaken crayons.

(It’s a well-known fact: every time a child is handed a crayon, a demon gets his horns.)

What does this have to do with maintaining my lawn? I’ll get there.

I own dogs. This means that they leave lots of little presents for me on the lawn in the backyard. But that’s okay. Because I knew what I was getting into when I decided I wanted to own dogs. So while I don’t exactly enjoy cleaning up these little pee-mail attachments, it comes with the territory.

My front lawn is a different story. Maintaining my front lawn is extremely stressful. Almost as stressful as dealing with my kids and their crayons.

Why is maintaining my front lawn extremely stressful? Let me tell you.

Maintaining my front lawn is extremely stressful because I live in a Third World neighborhood.

What do I mean by that? Let me tell you.

My neighborhood is overrun by cats.

I’m not talking about the fluffy Persian cats that turn their nose up at the wrong brand of cat food, or that sashay back and forth across their house’s front window, showing off their ‘Best In Show’ ribbon.

I’m talking about feral cats.  And when I say cats, I am not conveying clearly enough the extreme plural nature of the cats.

This confederation of feral cats is thriving because I have a well-intentioned neighbor who insists on feeding them. He loves these cats. LOVES them. He leaves out several bowls of food for them each day, and he leaves the door open to one of his cars, so they have someplace dry to stay during the rainy season.

Aw, how touching.

Despite this affection, he avoids all other aspects of pet ownership, such as tags and collars, regularly scheduled veterinary visits, and, more importantly, being responsible enough to neuter said feral cats. And as the old saying goes, “An unneutered feral cat community that lives together loves forever, eventually producing enough offspring to overrun an entire neighborhood.”

Why, you ask, do I care? Let me tell you while I sit here, serenaded by the yowls of a couple of feral cats rutting just on the other side of my fence, driving my dogs into an apoplectic barking frenzy that I am convinced is going to end in an aneurysm, either for one of the dogs, or for me.

You know the one thing the cats won’t do in the area where they are fed? If you said, “Go to the bathroom,” then ding ding ding! you win a prize.  Instead, they go somewhere else to do that particular business. Which is where my front lawn comes in.

(If you’re one of those lawyer types and you’re going to start shouting about getting your prize, just send me your address. As soon as I get it, I’ll go out to my front lawn and scoop up your reward.)

I’ve tried everything to keep them off my lawn. I have a spotlight on a motion sensor. I’ve left out mothballs. I’ve sprinkled the essence of jalapeno pepper around my lawn. I scattered granules of a particularly nasty smelling repellent on my lawn (made with, among other things, spoiled egg and dried blood). I’ve even tried watering my lawn every single night so that it’s soaking wet.

(I have even thought [SHUDDER] of leaving food out for them so they’ll do their business elsewhere.  But that’s just forcing the problem onto someone else.)

The cats don’t care what I do to discourage them. They love my lawn. It is the best kitty litter box they have ever encountered. They tell other cats passing through the neighborhood, “Hey dude, if you ever need to take a dump, have we got the perfect lawn for you!”

It’s driving me crazy.

Oh, I’ve thought of more extreme measures. I looked into traps so I could take them to the local shelter and have them fixed (and let me be clear – by fixed I mean neutered, NOT euthanized). Traps cost $65. And one of my neighbors, who’s already tried this approach, reports that the local shelter simply brought the cat back unaltered.

I’ve also thought about slingshots, pellet guns, even a .22 rifle (they’re not that loud). The old SNL yard-a-pult skit has also come to mind. But as a pet owner and all around decent human being, I could never harm another animal. Even if I have just stepped, barefoot, in that animal’s still warm and most-recent-in-a-long-string-of fecal deposits on my lawn.

However, I think I’ve finally come upon a humane solution. It involves my children and crayons.

The only problem is crayons don’t work very well on cat fur.

Does anyone have any advice on how to minimize the level of injury sustained while shaving a cat?

 
 

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