Thursday, August 06, 2015

Letter #56--The Bad News About Clif Bars

Dear Governor Ducey,

            It has been a short summer. I thought I’d give you and me a break from the incessant pleas to you to reconsider the devastating education budget cuts but now that time is over. I hope you had the opportunity to take a vacation. Perhaps on said vacation, you had the chance to reevaluate your position. It isn’t easy to change your mind, but it can happen,e especially when you’re on break and have time to reflect. Sometimes, when you go into a situation, you think you know what you should do, like when you first became governor and thought you had to Scott Walker the state. But sometimes, you do that “thought-was-the-right-thing” and then you realize you were wrong. This happened to me coming back from a vacation to Salt Lake. My family lives in Utah, where they too would like to Scott Walker the place, but where I still like to visit to see my family. We head north on 89 through Page, Kanab, Orderville, Panguitch until we hit I-15 and can legally drive 82 miles per hour.

We stop at Walker’s Wendy’s* in Kanab.  We had quite a convivial time in Salt Lake at my sister’s wedding. So much conviviality that I thought instead of eating at Wendy’s, which is always my dream and no one else’s, since Zoe doesn’t like fast food (although I could have persuaded Max now that he likes hamburgers with everything on them), that we should eat something healthy. Even Erik, who also doesn’t like fast food, said, “We can eat at Wendy’s, for lunch” which is rare and persuasive. But I stuck to my healthy, Walker-guns.

            We enter the Walker’s Fuel Stop on the right instead of the Wendy’s on the left. But then I notice it’s no longer Walker’s Fuel Stop. It’s a Seven-Eleven. We don’t have Seven-Eleven’s in Flagstaff (maybe you can do something about that). I had promised Max and Zoe a Slurpee. They had never had one. They taste better than Icee’s (the flavor satuates the ice more fully) although probably not healthier—the same as Vitamin Water, I suspect, which I would have bought them if they’d asked because we’re at the Fuel Stop in Kanab and I am easily persuaded to the word “Vitamin” when on a “health kick” in Kanab, Utah and the only provisions available are at the Fuel Stop. But after the Slurpee, that was it! No more junk food. I made them buy some nuts. Some beef jerky. It took me a long time to find the granola bars. I know not much of this is really healthy but it’s “Fuel Stop Healthy.” Or so I thought. We checked out. $25.79. Erik said, “Wendy’s would have been cheaper.” I nodded. But worse for you. Much worse. Right?

            No, is the answer. Wendy’s would have been better for you. And cheaper. The saturated fat content on the granola bars (Clif. Builder. Chocolate Mint) was 30%. That’s worse than a hamburger. And, the saturated fat is palm oil! The palms are the trees for which they cut down rain forests!
The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes species like the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers less than 3 years.”

Great work, Clif Bar industries. As we drove away, I looked longingly at the Wendy’s sign in the rearview mirror. The Clif Bar tasted chemical and chalky.

I know it will be hard for you to admit that funding universities at a sustainable level is healthier for the state than funding, say, prisons, which is good for the prison industry in the same way the granola bar is good for the palm oil industry. But you can see right on the packaging how spending more to keep people in jail than to educate them is a dumb idea—more expensive and not really as healthful as the hiker-on-the-package suggests. Sometimes, it just takes a little time, maybe when you’re on vacation, to see where real value lies.

*This story has a lot of Walkers in it. Scott Walker. I’m a Walker. And we stopped at what once was Walker’s Fuel Stop which also houses the Wendy’s in Kanab. Which is now a Sev.

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