|Traffic | Weather | Your account||Movies | Restaurants | Today's events|
Sweet ... all eyes on the onion
The Walla Walla sweet onion is a sweeter choice than the potato for Washington's state vegetable.
There. We said it. We didn't want to have to rough up the good old potato over what has become a not-so-funny little dust-up in the state Legislature. But when politicians play, well, politics with Washington's famous bulb, we have to take a stand.
A group of Kirkland Junior High School students wrote a bill designating the sweet onion as the state's official vegetable, found sponsors and testified for its passage. But the powerful potato lobby is fighting the effort. It has its eye, or eyes, on the title for its spuds.
Sure, the potato industry is huge in this state, but should it be the state's representative vegetable?
Come on, think of the imagery. Couch potato? Or the expression, "fell like a sack of ... " You get the idea.
Even in Idaho, the bloom is off the potato, so to speak. There, a state senator has proposed legislation to give vehicle owners the option of license plates without the "Famous Potatoes" slogan that has graced all plates for 46 years.
Washington's state House embraced the sweet-onion bill 95-1. A different version was mashed in the Senate Agriculture Committee where, interestingly, several members are past-Washington Potato Commission Legislators of the Year.
And when the House bill hit the Senate Government Operations Committee, the politicians cleaved the state vegetable title in two. In a "Kumbaya" attempt to kowtow to the potato lobby and not mince the students' hopes, the committee amended the bill to designate the sweet as the state's official "bulb," and the russet potatoes as the official "tuber."
How diplomatic. How inane.
But the sweet onion still has a chance. Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland, who counts the students among his constituents, hopes to amend the bill on the Senate floor to its original intent.
Potatoes are great, but the Walla Walla sweet has a following across the nation. The students found restaurants here and in Florida, Colorado and California whose menus feature the Walla Walla sweets by name.
Now that's diplomacy.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company