Emily Guendelsberger Emily is senior staff writer at Philadelphia City Paper. She enjoys writing about feminism, opera, television, arts ecosystems, music theory, people with weird jobs and pretty much everything involving money. You can also find her writing at the A.V. Club, the Guardian and other fine publications.
Meghan Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo via Flickr Creative Commons
City Councilman Jim Kenney says that the way Philly handles de-icing the streets — primarily with rock salt, which the city budgeted nearly a million dollars for this year — is dangerous, inefficient and bad for the environment. Unfortunately, his alternate proposal is kind of a walking punch line, even though it sounds like a decent idea. According to the Metro's Tommy Rowan:
Kenney asked if there was something else the city could be using. He pointed to "beet juice," which is made from a combination of salt brine and sugar beet molasses. The mixture's sticky texture helps the salt brine cling to roads, bridges and sidewalks for a longer period of time.
"Beet juice?" Would this mean neon pink streets instead of neon blue? (OMG, would it? Would it?) Sadly, no. From a National Geographic post on the subject:
A commercially prepared beet juice solution, when mixed with salt, serves as a "goo" to which salt sticks, minimizing its tendency to run off into nearby streams. Molasses and other sugary substances, including the waste from beer making, provide the same benefit. ...
Officials promise the beet juice product, which is more brown than red, won't stain.
The article also has a photo of a PennDOT truck spraying the stuff, which looks super disgusting and brown and not at all like the pink confection in the photo above. We got that from the National Zoo's Flickr, because though slightly misleading it was just too awesome not to use. The caption:
Washington's famous giant panda offspring, Tai Shan, officially celebrated his fourth birthday this morning -- complete with singing, guests and a massive, three-tiered "veggie-sicle" cake. The frozen masterpiece was made ... by freezing a combination of water, beets and beet juice ... Tai quickly took to the frozen treat, licking at the ice, spotting his furry face with the melting beet juice.
Mayor Nutter's administration is looking into the beet juice idea. No mention was made of the potential to attract roving pandas, but we'll assume they are looking into that as well.
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