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An Open Letter To The Dichotomy That Is Michigan's Governor Granholm


For those wondering where I’ve been, the nosebleed from Hell from two years ago had a sequel this past Tuesday morning. Dr. Nciak had clipped the maxillary artery during one of the procedures back then, and the danged thing grew another branch. I’m writing this post from a hospital bed in Ann Arbor. This whole nosebleed thing could turn into an ongoing saga … Now, on to my current food-related beef with Governor Granholm:

Dear Governor Granholm,

I was at first honestly dismayed about your proclaiming today, March 20, 2010, “Meatout Day” in the state of Michigan. I was even more disgusted to see you on the news this morning wondering why people were making such a fuss about it. But in looking through the state’s web site this morning, is seems you’re even a bit more confused than I’d thought you were. In any event, and in case your proclamation goes away off the state’s web site, here it is:

Michigan Meatout Day

Whereas, A wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains promotes good health and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, which take the lives of approximately 1.3 million Americans each year; and,

Whereas, The number of those who choose to live the lifestyle of a vegan or vegetarian has increased and so has the availability and selection of meat and dairy alternatives in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations; and,

Whereas, Reducing the consumption of meat or not eating meat at all can significantly decrease the exposure to infectious pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter, which take the lives of several thousand Americans and sicken millions more each year; and,

Whereas, The benefits of a plant-based diet can consist of increased energy levels, lower food budget costs, and simplified food preparation and cleanup; and,

Whereas, It is encouraged that the residents of this state get into the habit of healthy living by consuming a diet that is rich with vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and by staying active;

Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby proclaim March 20, 2010, Michigan Meatout Day in Michigan. In observance of this day, I encourage the residents of this state to choose not to eat meat. Eating a healthy diet can be fun. Explore the different recipes that can be created by using fresh ingredients and by having a sense of adventure.

Now, this next bit is interesting. Where did this come from? Again, from your own web site:

Governor Granholm Declares Saturday Michigan Agriculture Day

Contact: Liz Boyd

March 17, 2010

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, March 20, Michigan Agriculture Day, which coincides with National Agriculture Day observed on the first day of spring since 1973.

“Our state’s agricultural diversity offers something for everyone,” Granholm said. “From top-quality meat and vegetables to fine produce like apples, melons and blueberries, Michigan farmers produce wholesome, healthy food we all can enjoy.”

Agriculture is the second largest component of Michigan’s economy with an impact of over $71.3 billion. Between 2006 and 2007, agriculture grew over five times faster than the state’s general economy – 11.9 percent versus 2 percent – making it a key component of Michigan’s economy now and into the future.

Michigan produces over 200 agricultural commodities, more than any other state except California. Michigan dairy products provide a $5.1 billion impact on the state’s economy, placing the state ninth nationally in milk production. With an annual economic impact of $394 million, Michigan cattle production ranks 30th in the nation. The Michigan poultry industry produces 2.7 billion eggs each year, adding up to an annual value of $211.5 million. Michigan field crops like corn, dried beans, soybeans, sugar beets, hay and wheat contribute another $1.3 billion to Michigan’s economy each year.

“Whether Michiganians celebrate Michigan Agriculture Day with a cheeseburger made with Michigan beef and dairy or a soup made with Michigan beans, I hope people throughout the state take a moment to enjoy Michigan’s agricultural bounty on Saturday,” Granholm said.

Over one million Michiganians work in production agriculture, food processing, and other related businesses. Michigan’s integrated network of family farmers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers work to ensure a safe and nutritious food supply enjoyed by millions throughout the state.

Governor Granholm, I have to ask: Which is it? Meatout Day is getting all the attention … is that why it’s also Michigan Agriculture Day complete with, “celebrate Michigan Agriculture Day with a cheeseburger made with Michigan beef and dairy”?

I have serious doubts you have a real understanding of where the perceptions of your current actions arise from. Thanks to you, this is the first year Michigan is without its proud tradition of its dual State Fairs, one of which was the oldest in the country. And now, within the same 12-month period, you’ve again slighted the meat producing industry with a Meatout Day.

Your explanation of, “Well other states have done it” just doesn’t wash whatsoever.

Like many other states, Michigan is a very pro-meat state. Cultures that relocated here over the centuries brought their proud livestock, dairy and meat-packing traditions with them. They trumpet those traditions, from the Dutch dairy farmers, to the European meat-packers, to the old-style German cooks and chefs.

Over this past year, you’ve now slapped those proud folks in the face, not once, but twice. Your “fix” of a so-called “Michigan Agriculture Day” does nothing to ease the sting.

Frankly, the whole promotion of non-meat-eating lifestyles from the level of state government is heavy-handed and completely uncalled for. People can and do have “wholesome diets” that include meat and dairy products. People do overdo it sometimes, I’ll certainly acknowledge that. Education is the key, starting with good nutrition education in schools and a truly nutritious school lunch program. That’s a beginning.

You need to be trumpeting these industries, these farmers, these owners of Michigan properties and companies going back a century or more. You need to be trumpeting for their causes and their lifestyles as they do, if not more. You need to get behind your constituents, not in front of them with your hand out to stop them from doing business for a day.

You should be ashamed.

The key to healthy lifestyles should have has nothing to do with calling for a day-long boycott of our proud livestock industries from the level of your Office of Governor. That proclamation was more than absurd. It was an insult to a large number of your constituents. It’s certainly nothing to be proud of.

In the past 12 months you have single-handedly destroyed the relationship between the Office of Governor and Michigan’s agricultural industries. I can only hope you can somehow salvage this as it makes the entire state look bad. If not, I can certainly have hope your successor will reverse the damage you’ve done to the relationship between the Office of Governor, and the meat, dairy and other agricultural industries of Michigan.

4 comments to An Open Letter To The Dichotomy That Is Michigan’s Governor Granholm

  • Carol

    Well said Dave – from a hospital bed no less!

  • @Carol, I had lots of time to think it through. :-)

  • WOW! Well said.

    And I hope your recovery is soon and complete.

  • Looking through this post again I could have written it better. It took a lot out of me to write it though and I’m still quite weak, too weak to give it a proper rewrite.

    As for a “complete” recovery, I’ll only know as time passes. This could very possibly re-occur. And each time could be its last … or my last. I won’t know till then.

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