I've started picking up the Press Democrat (Santa Rosa's hometown paper) on my daily errand run to the post office and beyond. I'd been getting Mom's old papers, but I was usually at least two or three days late catching up on the local news. Sometimes it would drag on to a week or more, and by that time all I wanted to read was the comics, the obituaries, and the letters to the editor. (The latter two just to check for familiar names, including my own.)
With that lead-in, you'd probably think I have something cogent and perceptive to say about a critical Sonoma County issue. But I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the big deal problem of Southern California pests threatening our vineyards. I know it's important, and the fact that it's important emphasizes the agricultural nature of the area.
There' s a lot of political clout out in the fields, and the debate is over something that hasn't even happened yet. None of the glassy-winged sharpshooters has been found in the county, and yet Sebastopol has already passed a resolution against the spraying of pesticides, which no one has officially proposed yet.
So environmentalists accuse grape growers of overreacting to a nonexistent threat, and placing financial interests above public health. Nothing new there. Farmers accuse conservationists of overstating the threat of the chemicals and minimizing the impact of the insects on the economy. Same old story.
Well, this is just the kind of dilemma that I usually find myself planted firmly on both sides of. It's a curse to be able to poke and peer all around an issue, and yet not to have a clue how to resolve it.
But shouldn't people's health be protected, even at the expense of the grapes? Shouldn't there be some research into solving the problem without spreading poison into the air? Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves, since none of these insects has been identified in the North Bay? And why don't we wait and see how things work in Riverside, where they're already madly spraying away at pests that actually exist?
Not that I have an opinion or anything.