By on July 20, 2016

The valley’s green market erodes the moral fiber of a community.

160720RedneckJACKSON HOLE, WY – Sheriff Whalen walks into my office with the cocky arrogance of a Westbanker at a wine tasting. “We have a problem,” he says. In Whalen terminology, “we” means me, or rather his problem is now mine.

I don’t like Whalen’s attitude, so I just stare at him until he squirms like a Wilson dame in a Hog Island mobile home. Finally he says, “I’ve had Jed from Cosmic Apple in my office.”

I scoff. “What happened, someone run off with a sustainable plum?”

“It’s serious,” he says. “According to Jed, someone has been selling organic, sustainable grown, uncut arugula on the street.”

“Uncut?” I was incredulous. “That stuff’s bitter. It’s usually mixed with leaf or red lettuce. If people develop a taste for it they will never be satisfied with regular lettuce. Organic farmers will be stuck with tons of butterhead and romaine. It could bankrupt every sustainable grower in the area.”

“When there is a free flow of arugula on the street, crime rate goes up as addicts strive to feed their addiction,” Whalen explained. “We suspect the realtor gang is behind it. Farmers markets are hotbeds of subversion; housing and no growth activists exchanging ideas and petitions. The realtors want to stop the no-growth movement in its tracks”

Whalen is so involved in politics he can’t see the end of his nose. “That’s stupid,” I say, and Whalen looks at me the way a Teton Pines doll looks at day-old sushi.

“Hedge fund managers’ wives love shopping for organic peas then returning to their 8,000- square-foot house with a heated driveway knowing they have done their part to save the environment, or at least their part for the two weeks a year they live in the valley,” I tell him. “And while she’s shopping, the husband can go fly fishing and drink beer all day. No realtor in his right mind is going to want to shut down that selling point.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Whalen admits. “But if not them, then who? I’m getting pressure from the town council; I’m asking for your help Clyde.”

“OK,” I say. “I’ll take care of it. But I’ll need to make an offer in your name to get it to stop.”

“Whatever it takes,” he promises.

Whalen leaves and I take a long swig of whiskey then I call Benny Bagel Face Bonanno. “I hear you’ve been volunteering at the Vertical Greenhouse,” I say. “I know you’ve been picking arugula when no one is looking. Whalen says if you quit with the arugula he will turn a blind eye to a little pot growing.”

“Are you kidding!” Bagel Face exclaims. “Do you know how much I can make from organic sustainable arugula? Pot is nowhere close!”

“Look, Whalen’s feeling political pressure and will bring serious heat. Take the deal or I won’t be able to help.”

“All right,” he agreed. “But I have a few pounds in stock. What am I suppose to do with that?”

“It’s good on walnut fig pizza,” I said. PJH

About Clyde Thornhill

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