Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Musings: Food and Drugs

Waialeale had draped herself in a lacy shawl and Venus was climbing through an apricot sky when Koko and I went out walking this chilly morning. As we headed mauka, the sky slowly faded to the shade of weak tea and by the time we headed home, all the color had disappeared, leaving the heavens a dead mosaic of gray and white, waiting to be enlivened by the rising sun.

The County Council meeting of Feb. 9 is likely to be enlivened by County Councilman Mel Rapozo’s introduction of a proposed amendment to the plastic bag reduction ordinance. After hearing from numerous restaurateurs concerned about the health ramifications of having people bring their own bags to carry take-out containers, he’s introduced an amendment that would exempt food service establishments, which are defined as:

“Food Service Establishment” means any building, vehicle, place, or structure, or any room or division in a building, vehicle, place, or structure where food is prepared, served, or sold for immediate consumption on or in the vicinity of the premises; called for or taken out by customers; or prepared prior to being delivered to another location for consumption. This term includes, but not limited to restaurants; coffee shops; cafeterias; short-order cafes; luncheonettes; taverns; lunchrooms; places which manufacture wholesale or retail sandwiches or salads; institutions, both public and private; food carts; itinerant restaurants; industrial cafeterias; and catering establishments.

Apparently some cities that pioneered the bag ban have amended their own bills to allow food service establishments to use fresh plastic to package their products, because of health and safety concerns. An article by Consumer Reports, questioned some of the chemical industry-funded research, but did end with this conclusion:

It’s easy to spread bacteria from meat, fish, or poultry to other foods – in your kitchen or in your grocery bags. So we do think it’s wise to carry those items in disposable bags. Reusable bags are fine for most everything else, but it’s a good idea to wash them occasionally.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, perhaps the food service establishments would be willing to switch to biodegradable boxes and cutlery in exchange for getting the use of their plastic bags back. Because while I can find lots of uses for a plastic bag, I’ve never yet re-used a foam take out box. And we sure do go through a lot of them on this little island.

While we’re talking about restaurants, I noticed a letter to the editor from Louisa Wooten, producer of the renowned Kunana Dairy goat cheese, the other day. While doing a search engine check, her son discovered at least four restaurants — one a five-star hotel — that claimed to be using their product, even though two had never bought her cheese and two others had stopped ordering well over a year ago. Guess there’s no need to buy local if you can lie local.

On another note, I’ve heard Beth Tokioka claims that I always bash the mayor. So I’ll take this opportunity to give him props for finally moving ahead with a youth drug treatment facility. A meeting is set for Thursday night so people can give their comments about its location, with a press release from the county stating:

“A recent series of meetings focusing on the critical need to provide these services for our youth has made us hopeful that the so-called ‘NIMBY’ issues are behind us and that our community is ready to move forward on behalf of our kids,” said the mayor.

However, it does not reveal the location of either of the two proposed sites, other than “Central Kauai,” which covers a lot of territory. But it’s a clever way to deflect NIMBY-ism, because no one is motivated to turn out in opposition if they don’t know exactly where it is. Doncha just love transparency?


Anonymous said...

Protecting the poor little birds who eat the tiny bits of these bags is way more important than protecting some fat meat eater against the one-in-a-million chance that he gets the runs from eating an ice cream sandwich that got contaminated from his cloth bag.

Try wash your bag.
Stop killing animals.

Mel Rapozo said...

I would also like to add that the amendment will require food service establishments to use biodegradable plastic bags.

Anonymous said...

mahalo mel for the requirement to use bio-degradable plastic bags in the admendmant. i think joan's suggestion to include styrofoam on the list of banned items for restaurants is an excellent measure to consider as well. cheers,...jt

Anonymous said...

There are two kinds of biodegradable bags 1. Oxi 100% petro based and degrade by adding chemicals that break them into little pieces. (bad) and bio base plastics that still have some petrochemicals(less bad).

Anonymous said...

Future generations will be saying, "You did what? You poisoned our water and air, and got rid of all that arable land, wiped out plants and animals and forests, took the beautiful planet that we were given and treated it like a toxic waste dump for that? Knowing that you were screwing your grandchildren and their grandchildren? And now you want us to support your old asses until your ninety? You're fucking kidding, right?"

Anonymous said...


Waste Management General Manager Joe... Whelan also talked about what kinds of waste he'd like to see eliminated from the landfill.
"Plastic bags from the various retail outlets are very difficult for landfills," Whelan said. "Any thing that escapes, 99.9 percent of it is a plastic bag."