More Jackson County Opinions...

July 11, 2001


Column
By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
July 11, 2001

Peach fuzz on the way out?
When I buy peaches, the first thing I look for is a healthy smattering of fuzz. The fuzz makes the peach. The feel of the fuzz on your lips, the warm smell of peach orchards hits you right before the first bite is taken. It brings the simple act of eating to a new height. Recently, I've visited the local grocery, excited at the prospect of that first bite of ripe Georgia peach. Yet there was no fuzz on the round, peach-colored things in the fruit bins. There were as smooth as apples. I determined it must be some new fruit and wanting a fuzzy peach, I passed on the newfangled thing in the grocer's fruit aisle. Fuzzy peaches may just take a little longer to ripen than their smooth cousins.
But then I heard some disturbing news on AgDay. They reported that the University of Georgia discovered a way to remove nearly 100 percent of the pesticides from peaches-remove the fuzz. Sacrilegious bibble babble. If you remove the fuzz, you remove the very essence of the peach. That would be like removing the box from the turtle. Or the peanut from the peanut butter. But they're doing it. The naked peaches are on the store shelves now.
Bobby Lane, a peach grower in Georgia, produces 1,620,000,000 peaches, which he sells to supermarkets. Normally, Lane's peaches test 500-1,000 times lower than the EPA allows. Its so low that the pesticide residue nearly goes undetected scientifically. But UGA scientists found that if Lane uses a large machine to remove the fuzz, then the low amount of pesticide would be reduced by 65 percent. A 45-minute bath in chlorinated water and whatever pesticide remains on the fuzzless peach is reduced by another 35 percent.
A fuzzless peach. It sounds sad. Like eggs that come in a milk carton or veal meat. It's not as nature intended. I understand the reasoning behind fuzzless peaches. That part is obvious. They (meaning scientists and peach growers) want to get close to an "organic" peach. One that is pesticide-free. It's a good advertising move. People don't want to eat bug-killer along with their vitamin C. It just seems that growers and scientists are going around the fence to arrive at the same point as the person who opens the gate. First, you grow peaches using pesticides and manufactured fertilizers. Then, you send your peaches through a machine that removes the fuzz from your peach. The fuzz which God in His infinite wisdom placed there. The fuzz which is the essence of the peach. The fuzz which makes a peach feel like a peach. And, finally, you bathe your naked, fuzzless peach in chlorinated water. It's now pesticide-free, but what have you lost in the process? Are fuzzy peaches doomed to be the next endangered species? Will I have to explain to my daughter someday that peaches used to have hair just like a kiwi?
Supermarkets may now be boasting that they carry pesticide-free peaches, but I can envision a day in the not too distant future when grocery stores will advertise that they have a limited supply of fuzzy peaches. The fuzzy ones will probably cost three times as much as their bald brothers.
What fruit will be the next to be morphed before our very eyes? Apples or pears are the logical choices. Scientists have already bred and cross-bred the two so many times that they really are running out of options. Unless they can devise a way to grow a bug-resistant Asian Pear, pear and apple skins are on the way out. It's obvious to me and it will be obvious to UGA scientists. If you remove the skins, you would remove 100 percent of the pesticides. Then, scientists just have to find some chemical to spray on the naked fruit so it doesn't turn brown. They invented Velcro. It should only take them a week or two to figure this one out. Then, no one would have to worry about washing their fruit ever again. Now, what about broccoli?

Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

Column
By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
July 11, 2001


Rec programs will survive growing pains
As with any venture, the initial stages of the City of Jefferson's re-entry into the recreation business has met with some resistance. Just turn to the editorial section of this newspaper for proof.
The fighting between the city recreation board and the Jefferson Little League Booster Club could have been avoided, but it wasn't. The question now is not so much how it got to this point, but rather, where do we go from here?
The answer is simple, though actually carrying it out may not be.
As the city council's liaison to the rec board and a resident of the city, councilman Bosie Griffith has every right to attend the board's meetings. But with Griffith, board president Tim Pass and department director Suzy Davis all holding positions of leadership in the recreation picture, both respect and responsibility are splintered.
Only with a single person serving as the group's icon can the board gain the respect necessary to get backing from the booster club and other groups. Under the current situation, it's difficult to determine who's actually making the decisions.
Now is the time for someone involved to step out of the fray and make the difficult decisions that will be frowned upon from both sides. That person should be Davis.
Davis' resume proves she has the professional experience to run both the recreation department and the board's meetings. That, plus the fact that she's still new to the area, would make her a much less polarizing influence at the helm than either Griffith or Pass.
That's not meant to take away at all from the contributions of both Griffith and Pass to the recreation programs in Jefferson. Each of them seems to have the concerns of Jefferson's young athletes at heart, and each can certainly serve a positive role once all the initial wrinkles are ironed out.
The largest wrinkle, at least for the moment, is the board's relationship with the booster club. Rumors and allegations have flown between the two like mosquitos in the South Georgia twilight, and that must stop.
As a government agency, the rec board has neither the right nor the legal power to take possession of property owned by the booster club, which is a private, non-profit organization. For it to do so would be a slap in the face of the private ownership rights protected in the U.S. Constitution.
However, since its role in recreation will now be greatly diminished, the booster club could choose to donate its holdings to the recreation department. That's probably the best course of action, but the friction that currently exists between the two groups makes it nearly impossible.
An air of cooperation between Davis and booster club president Brian Harris seems to exist already, and could flourish if interference from others were removed. If Harris and Davis are left alone to talk things out, the board-booster club situation will be quickly resolved.
Another problem facing the board is apathy. Apparently, at least two board members have often found excuses for missing meetings. This can't continue. If two of five board members are absent on a regular basis, the board is continually on the verge of not having a quorum for meetings.
If board members don't live up to their committments, they should be replaced by the city council, and quickly.
Jefferson's decision to re-enter the recreation business will pay off handsomely with a strong program in a few years. But everyone involved must be patient and understand that a few rough spots are a small but inevitable price to pay for having a sound recreation program.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald. He may be reached at the sports desk at (706) 367-2348, or via email at SpeckCh@aol.com.

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