I was reading the Albany, Georgia Herald when I came across Jennifer Maddox Park’s piece “Blakely Going Nuts.” At first I thought the town was so damn sorry and embarrassed for being the location of the peanut butter plant that has sickened nearly 700, hospitalized 150 and killed 9, that they were going to have some type of memorial to the victims – perhaps raise money for medical bills and lost wages? But, alas, not a damn chance. Remember, many who lived in the Blakely knew that the Peanut Corporation of America plant was rat and bird infested and some even knew that it was shipping Salmonella-tainted product.
Here, according to my new friend Jennifer, is what is actually happening – “Included in the event will be live music, free peanut snacks including grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, an obstacle course, educational exhibits and a peanut recipe contest.” And there are the lovely, caring quotes by politicians and folks from the Chamber of Commerce:
“In the midst of negative exposure surrounding the recent salmonella outbreak, representatives from the peanut industry are out to educate the public on the positive impact they can have.”
“We are enthused at how the peanut industry has come together. It’s going to be a great day.”
“We are sending the message that we are proactive in saving the industry. At a time like this, it is important to have an umbrella to bring everyone in the industry together. It’s about community support; it’s just going to be a good day.”
“The peanut industry is a critical component of the economy not only in Blakely but also across our entire state. The festival this weekend will provide some momentum to keep the industry, which supports nearly 50,000 jobs in our state, vibrant and thriving.”
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that the peanut industry has come together,” he said. “The festival is an expression of the fact we know the peanut industry is a great industry. One bad actor is not going to kill it; we are going to prosper. (The event) goes right along with the optimistic spirit over the past couple of years.”
“It shows how strong the community is here. It should be big; hopefully it will be a good day. This can be a fun day given economic times.”
“Our purpose is to show peanut butter is trustworthy. We don’t want to focus on the bad; we want to focus on the good.”
Perhaps I should show up with nine crosses? Or, a bag of hospital bills? Yes, I understand the need to make a buck, but for god’s sake, wait at least until the bodies are cold and the survivor’s bills are paid. Pathetic.