Lee Pitts: Sustainable Paradigms
November 21, 2014
I want to be sustainable, I really do, I mean, who doesn't want to be sustainable?
It's just that I don't know how.
The word "sustainable" is very trendy right now, just like "paradigm" was THE WORD of the last decade. So let me be the first to say that I'm a big supporter of "sustainable paradigms." Now, if I only knew what that meant.
Everywhere you look these days there are Sustainability Conferences, Forums and Roundtables attended by Chief Sustainability Officers and their underlings, the Sustainability Protocol Officers. McDonalds even has their very own Vice President of Sustainability. But before you get too impressed I'm thinking that McDonalds must be like a lot of BIG banks, with more Vice Presidents than they have customers.
This whole sustainability thing is starting to make my head hurt and I don't think I'm the only one. Although the CEO of McDonalds says that McDonalds' customers are "demanding sustainable food" its Vice President of Sustainability says that consumers "don't even know what sustainability means." I wonder, how can consumers be demanding something when they don't even know what it is they are demanding? I told you, there's a whole lot about this sustainable thing I don't understand.
Ranchers better learn what being sustainable means real fast because McDonalds says they want to sell 100 percent sustainable beef and that's a BIG deal because McDonalds buys 2 percent of all the beef produced in the world!
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Words are my friends. I make my living with them. So pardon me for saying this but the word "sustainability" is being given meanings not found in any dictionary. I always thought that to be sustainable meant to be able to continue doing what you are presently doing. You know, like farmers and ranchers whose families have been making a living by producing life-giving food for many generations. Yet this sustainability movement seems to be largely composed of urbanite snoopy busybodies who live in high-rises living very unsustainable lives. How long do you think these folks could sustain themselves if all the grocery stores and McDonalds suddenly closed? Or the trucks carrying meat and produce from America's farms and ranches couldn't make their deliveries? Many who claim to be sustainable work for big corporations who could lay them off at a moment's notice when they move their operations offshore. That strikes me as not being very sustainable.
Sometimes I think this whole sustainable thing is just a big excuse to allow these mischief-makers to stick their noses further into our business. Are we really going to start letting city slickers, who couldn't grow a radish if their lives depended on it, tell these farm and ranch families who have lived and worked on the same place, in some cases for over 100 years, how to grow food?
McDonalds has their own polling data that shows that nearly a third of its 70 million daily customers don't feel good about eating there. Could all this sustainability stuff we hear just be a public relations campaign to make McDonalds customers think they won't get fat drinking huge, sugary sodas and eating super-sized cartons of French fries because the sugar and spuds were produced in a sustainable manner?
Whenever I hear the word sustainable I am reminded of the old joke about a lazy do-gooder who always wrote letters to the editor. Even though he lived in an apartment and had never grown a garden or fed a lamb in his life, he freely criticized the terrible farmers and ranchers who fed him. One day while he was trespassing and literally sticking his nose into a rancher's business he was chased down and crushed by an angry bull and decapitated.
Two days later he died.
So tell me again… who was being sustainable?