Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bob Dunning: The making of the golden-brown state


From page A2 | July 16, 2014 |

Yes, as the current wave of grassicide has taken over whole neighborhoods in our once beautiful and well-manicured town, I’m here to tell you that gold is not the new green.

This, despite the claims of those super-righteous folks who are letting their lawns die as if they’re going to singlehandedly save the planet by disabling their sprinklers and not flushing the toilet.

To begin with, dead grass is in no way, shape or form “gold.” It is brown. Ugly brown. It does not even remotely resemble amber waves of grain.

In an extreme case of short-sightedness, our beloved governor has ordered that the stunning green grass in Capitol Park — enjoyed by generations of Californians — be allowed to die as an example to all of us. It is, after all, California’s “front porch,” as the governor describes it.

I just knew there was a reason his name is “Brown.”

We used to have laws that forced citizens to keep their yards in decent order or pay some sort of “public nuisance” fine for visual blight. Now blight is the order of the day, an ugly scene to be cherished and rewarded.

Drive up and down any street in Davis these days and seemingly every other yard is half-dirt, half-weeds and all brown.

Some folks have actually put in “drought-tolerant” landscaping with river rocks, cacti and olive-drab vegetation more suitable to a desert, which Davis is not.

Others have simply let their yards go, given that there are not enough discretionary funds in the family budget to put in alternative landscaping.

Trees, of course, will be the next to go, vilified for sucking up all our precious groundwater. Welcome to the Davis Chainsaw Massacre.

Already, Tree Davis is planning to change its name to Saguaro Davis and has hired an artist from Tucson to change its logo as well.

Those with green lawns or tomatoes and corn and sunflowers growing in a lush garden are now scofflaws, deserving of our scorn or maybe even mug shots in the post office.

Nowadays, if a neighbor shows up on your doorstep to share some homegrown zucchini, you are required to lecture them on how much water they wasted raising such a worthless vegetable.

People scold waiters in restaurants who put ice water on the table uninvited, then order a glass of wine that took a thousand times more water to produce.

Put simply, when it comes to beverages, the best way to conserve water is to drink only water, the one drink that doesn’t require gallons and gallons of water to produce a single 8-ounce glass.

If you’re really serious about conserving water, it’s time to stop drinking orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice and milk, not to mention Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, cabernet sauvignon and ice-cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Forget about putting calories and other nutritional information on labels, better that we tell consumers exactly how much water went into producing the food they’re about to buy.

I mean, exactly how much water does it take to grow, process and deliver that cute little 4-ounce can of Smokehouse almonds, a tasty snack that not only doesn’t quench your thirst, but actually makes you even thirstier?

Is that juicy nectarine really worth all the water it took to grow it? And think of the amount of water used to raise the crops for seven-grain bread when we can make perfectly good bread using only one grain.

Never mind “Farm to Fork,” the smartest thing we can do is to buy fruits and vegetables that were raised out of state, which means first and foremost they were grown using someone else’s water, not our own.

We all know that cows eat that water-wasting crop known as alfalfa that is then somehow magically converted into the well-marbled ribeyes we throw on the barbecue grill.

Better that we simply eat the alfalfa ourselves, saving all sorts of transportation costs, not to mention the lives of countless innocent cows.

There are many, many ways to cut back on our water use without turning Davis into an urban desert. Grassicide is not one of them.

— Reach Bob Dunning at



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