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Pet Peeves

There are two pet peeves that I have harbored for a long time, and wanted to comment upon. In full disclosure, these peeves do not relate to ag-aviation, at least not directly. But, they do reflect upon the greenwashing of Americans and to a great degree the rest of the world; plastic vs paper drinking straws and pasture-raised eggs. Yes, you read it correctly, pasture-raised eggs. It is beyond me how you “raise” eggs, maybe “hatch”? 

The paper versus plastic drinking straw debacle is an interesting one. Evidently, an over zealous tree-hugger finally hit a nerve with the idea that plastic drinking straws were a detriment to the environment compared to bio-degradable paper drinking straws. I’ll drop the “drinking” part of the straw description for editorial efficiency. 

Actually, there is only one manufacturer of paper straws, Aardvark Straws based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That’s probably because up until recently, plastic straws ruled, although Aardvark was growing yearly. According to a USA Today report, last year the company saw a 5,000% increase in sales, literally billions of straws. The company was bought last year by the Hoffmaster Group that manufacturers disposable tableware. Obviously, this will be a good fit for Hoffmaster which plans to jump on the environmental bandwagon, expanding sales of paper straws as plastic straw sales decline.  

The paradox here is the environmentalists want to ban plastic straws for the very, very few of the billions used that might end up in the ocean and become wedged in a sea creature, primarily the turtle. I can sympathize with that, I like turtles, especially turtle soup. But, to change an entire industry for what may affect a few turtles? 

Back to the paradox, now the environmentalists want to replace plastic straws with paper straws. Hmmm…. How does that happen? Trees! Gee, will we be cutting down the precious trees that people are constantly trying to save? Do you ever get an email that says in its signature at the end, “Think before you print this email. Save a tree?” 

All this could be for ag-aviation. If more trees are going to be needed to manufacture paper straws, then evidently there’s going to be a greater need for aerial applications to help raise these trees. Don’t forget to tell your friends with the sententious email signature that trees are a renewable resource and raised by tree farmers for the explicit reason to manufacture paper products. Oh well…

My second pet peeve, being pasture-raised eggs, has really left me scratching my head. How do you “raise” an egg, maybe a chicken, but an egg? Based on the egg cartons’ greenwashing labeling (made of paper, by the way), the chickens are allowed to roam in pastures (free range) alfresco-style (open, free air). Does this mean no chicken coops and the chickens can “fly” wherever they desire? 

Whenever I read a reference on a restaurant menu about eggs from free-range chickens, I chuckle. I have this mental picture of people running around in a pasture full of chickens on some super-duper egg hunt. I bet it is a free-for-all at Easter time! Maybe the egg company can feed the chickens an environmental-friendly dye and the eggs will be laid already colored. 

Really, has it come to this? Are people so gullible to think just because the chicken supposedly runs around in a pasture and the eggs are “hand-tended” that it makes any difference in the quality of the egg? One company touts the hens have 108+ square feet of free range. Let’s see, 43,560 square feet in an acre would mean there is 403 hens running around on that acre. A small 10-acre pasture would have 4,030 hens on it! What if they all group up in one corner where the feeders and waters are located? Does that cause a problem? 

Paper straws and pasture-raised eggs is the epitome of greenwashing gone wild. Of course, greenwashing in itself is shameful. Maybe the ag-aviation industry should come up with its own form of greenwashing. It sure seems to sell good with the general public! 

PHOTOS: Also, add a file photo of a drinking straw, nondescript as to whether it is plastic or paper.     Photo Credit: Sandy Lavender/Kroger grocery





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