Jonathan Oosting of MLive broke out with the damnable puns regarding a political food fight.
An unusually fruitful debate unfolded Tuesday in the Michigan Capitol, as middle school students squeezed lawmakers to designate the cherry -- no wait, the blueberry! -- as the official state fruit.Well at least the writing is good.
The movement began more than three years ago in Ann Arbor, where fourth grade government students at Bach Elementary School noticed that more than 30 other states have official fruits and decided the issue was ripe for further study.I didn't ask for more puns.
Their research, which they first shared with state Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) in 2010, led to a natural conclusion: The cherry should be designated as the official state fruit of Michigan.Does this mean that I can blame the Democrat?
The students worked with Warren to introduce a bill, launched a letter writing campaign and, on Tuesday, made their case for legislative action in testimony before the Senate Government Operations Committee.
"If it doesn't pass into law, it would be the pits," Zain Smith and Jackson Roberts, now in 7th grade, told lawmakers.I suppose children are immune to criticism although I demand pun-itive damages at this point.
Michigan is the nation's number one producer of tart cherries, students noted, and is also a leader in sweet cherries. French explorers planted cherry trees when they first arrived in Detroit; Traverse City is now known as the "cherry capital" and hosts a national festival each year.Educational background is nice. Although this seems like a waste of time. Is this where I officially Demand the Apology?
Blueberries had their backers too, including two large mascots who stalked the hearing room. Students from St. Basil and Baseline middle schools in South Haven argued that the blueberry is big business in West Michigan and backed a state fruit bill introduced by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton).
Michigan has produced more than 490 million pounds of blueberries in a single year, or roughly 32 percent of all those eaten in the United States, they said. And blueberries appear to have a more direct historical connection to Michigan than the cherry.
That argument seemed to hit a sweet spot with Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) and Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Grand Rapids)."Blueberries, cranberries and grapes are all native to America and have been producing food for Michigan much longer before cherries," said Baseline student John Ellis, who told lawmakers that his great grandparents invented the blueberry harvester. "Cherries are actually native to China."
"I can tell you have a future in politics," Hildenbrand said with a smile. "We're talking about cherries or blueberries and you find a way to weave in China."
The great fruit debate wasn't the end of the hearing, however. Students from Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park, joined by state Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit), also asked lawmakers to designate Mackinac Island fudge as the official state sweet. No arguments there.
Richardville walked students through the law-making process and treated it as the civics lesson it was. He didn't hold a vote on any of the bills but said he would consider the testimony. He also suggested students could stop writing letters, noting that he has received more than 100 on the fruit bills alone.Since the function of these activities is allegedly to teach students about the process of government, governing, governance, and that whole question of "how is a bill made into law", then one see from that angle how this is not a waste of our time, on balance.
The worst part is possibly that this could just be a proxy fight between middle schools.
Our legislators do have a history of wasting time on fluff issues and not a grand track record of laying out laws and plans to fix our shattered roads, without increasing the gasoline taxes.
"Cherry Stella444" by Benjamint444, edited by Fir0002 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
"Vaccinium fruits". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.