2012.12.12 Stingray shoes and Chia Pets- It's Christmas 2012

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

It’s once again time to go Christmas shopping and this might finally be the year to pick up a Chia Pet. No, not because the Chia Mitt Romney looks so poorly groomed with his big, green, seedy Afro, but because I suspect this may be the last year for the goofy product. If you’ve passed on the original generic Chia man for years, or later versions like Shrek, Homer Simpson and even President Obama, it might be time to grab one of this year’s presidential candidates or a Hello Kitty Chia before they sell out.

It seems that the Chia seed, long part of the joke that is the Chia Pet and the ingredient that grows that gorgeous green “hair,” is fast becoming a “must have” nutritional item. The seed contains omega-3 fatty acids just like fish, in addition to protein, fiber and antioxidants.

According to the New York Times, “Whole and ground chia seeds are being added to fruit drinks, snack foods and cereals and sold on their own to be baked into cookies and sprinkled on yogurt.” The Dole company has introduced Dole’s Chia and Fruit Clusters. 

Another company has introduced Mamma Chia Fruit Juices, which have chia seeds suspended in them. When the founder of the fruit juice company met with representatives of the Whole Foods chain, hoping to get her product a trial in a few stores, the buyer insisted on putting the product in every store.

Joseph Enterprises, the company responsible for the Chia Pet, has now added chia seeds and milled chia to its product line under a name that will sound somewhat familiar to anyone who has ever seen a Chia Pet commercial. The new item is called “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Omega.” In addition, the company is making chia protein bars which can be found in many of the same drugstores that sell the Chia Pet.

There is a down side to all this chia good news, though. The crop is grown only in Bolivia and Mexico and bad weather in both countries has reduced production. Combined with growing demand, the  future supply of seeds could be in jeopardy, not to mention the future supply of Chia Pets.

If supplies get really tight, I can’t see Joseph Enterprises using its seeds on the seasonal Chia Pet instead of items they could sell all year. But don’t despair. If you want a really expensive and even dumber gift, how about a pair of shoes made out of stingray leather, genetically grown to match your own design?

Introduced this year by Rayfish Footwear, the shoes are made from actual stingray leather. Customers may go online and use a design tool to create their own unique pattern. 

Following a process used in 2011 when Rayfish “successfully engineered our first fully bio-customized stingray,” the company will then use DNA on file in its facility in Thailand to “identify the genes responsible for color and pattern and implant the “supergene” cluster into fetal rays before they are born. As the ray grows and matures, it expresses the predetermined patterns on its skin.”

Two stingrays are created in this process, one for each shoe. Once they have reach sufficient size, they sacrifice their lives for the sake of someone willing to pay $1,800 for a pair of personalized shoes. No word on whether you’ll be bothered by hungry cats.

As the website puts it. “This price includes bio-customization of a pair of stingrays, growing your shoes to maturity, and shipping them to any address on the planet.” There’s no mention of a decent burial for the remains of the stingrays. I get the distinct impression that PETA probably doesn’t have any chapters in Thailand. That’s probably why the shoes are made there in the first place—cheap labor and no stingray lobbyists. 

I had to laugh at the statement on Rayfish’s website that “Rayfish Footwear harnesses the beauty and variety of nature to create the world’s first truly custom sneakers.” They forgot to add that once those beautiful stingrays grow large enough, Rayfish will happily slaughter them for a huge profit.

The worst part may be that the shoes themselves, or at least the samples they show online, are ugly. I can’t imagine why anyone would want a pair, especially when you consider the cost, both in money and marine life. It’s enough to make me want to buy a Chia Obama.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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