If General Mills can’t go to the mountain, then bring the mountain to General Mills Factory-made lettuce is what we’re dealing with here. Not merely the application of factory techniques to the lettuce fields, mind you, but the moving of the lettuce fields indoors and doing everything possible there to fool Mother Nature. General Mills, the company that brings you Betty Crocker cake mixes and Gorton’s of Gloucester seafood, among other delicacies, has been developing its enclosed lettuce-making facility for five years and now has the product ready for sale. Here’s how The Wall Street Journal described the process: “In the factory, lettuce will be planted in a special medium in moveable troughs. The troughs will move from light areas to dark areas to simulate day and night. The lettuce will be harvested and packaged for sale under the Kitchen Harvest brand.” Now we know what to do with the Astrodome in off-seasons’: lease it to General Mills so it can plant a quick crop in the AstroTurf. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 PET tE TTUCE Wilson vs. the fern fanciers Sometimes it seems that U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson of Lufkin raises a ruckus just for the hell of it. The latest example came when, fresh from his fight with critics of Nicaragua’s dictatorship \(Obs.. tion to a favorite target closer to home: want to complement the Big Thicket National Preserve with state park acreage. Environmentalists, led by Big Thicket Association president and former U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough, have been cajoling state parks officials for years to buy East Texas timberlands before the tracts are irrevocably lost to the lumber industry. But the land is in Wilson’s district, and the prospect of taking it out of pulpwood production makes him peevish. So Wilson, who holds a seat on the House appropriations committee \(and a $100,000 stake in the fortunes of Time, prevailed on the subcommittee that controls park spending to cut the final $6.38 million allocated to pay for the 84,550acre federal preserve. The money would be held hostage, he vowed, until state of ficials promised that not a single inch of his district would be added to the 84,5.50 acres he had grudgingly accepted when the national wilderness sanctuary was created. His move drew the kind of broadside from environmentalists that he thrives on. Yarborough denounced it as “discreditable,” and thundered that Wilson was “trying to blackmail the state of Texas.” The former senator charged that Wilson’s financial interest in the lumber industry disqualified him from taking part in congressional deliberations on the Big Thicket. Wilson dismisses the conflict-ofinterest claim as “an empty charge,” and smaller, independent lumber millers would suffer most from forced sale of his district would be deprived of areas for car camping and mass recreation if the state set up another wilderness preserve. He’s got a point, but puzzled proponents of the state park idea say they never disputed it. They claim that the state always creates its parks by pur chasing land from willing sellers and that they were asking for exactly the type of recreational site Wilson prefers. They also note that Wilson had little to fear from the Texas Parks and ‘Wildlife Commission, which has been notoriously uninterested in planning new parks of any sort. All this may explain why the Lufkin congressman promptly got the assurances he wanted and duly promised to drop his opposition to the federal appropriation, but it doesn’t explain why he made such a to-do in the first place. Possibly he was putting on a show for his district’s conservative lumber company executives, who resent his votes on matters like labor law reform but share his scorn for the Big Thicket preservationists he refers to as “people that kind of get turned on by weird bogs.” It’s just as likely, though, that he gave them a poke in the eye for his own sakeas a disapproving editorialist for the Kountze Daily News put it, Wilson has “been sitting on a cocklebur and yelling at the Big Thicket Association” for years. E.H. Ranked by the women The Texas congressional delega tion is a mediocre bunch by the lights of the National Women’s Political Caucus, though it does harbor a handful of bright flashes. The bipartisan women’s group ranked the House members by 16 of their votes on issues of concern to feminists, and reports that Texans turned out for women a measly 49 percent of the time. \(Only 12 states came in under Texas, and individual representaFirst the good news: Barbara Jordan’s near-perfect score of 94 percentshe missed one vote on a bill which passed 320-1was matched by Jack Brooks. And second-place honors were shared by Jim Mattox, Bob Eckhardt, Charlie Wilson and Jim Wright, each of whom scored 75. The worst news is Tiger Teague, who was at the bottom of the barrel with only one correct votethough he had to hustle to beat out Jim Collins and Bill Archer, who voted with NWPC twice each.
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.