Readers talk back about eating local, the cost of organics, and more
Your interview with Louella Hill is timely and enlightening. Kudos to you!
As a culture, Americans have drifted far from their relationships to real, honest food. Local farm economies put a face to your food and improve the quality of life for so many. Supporting local farming also means supporting the sustainability of natural systems, using precious resources wisely, and nurturing the land to vibrant health in a balanced way — all while keeping alive a rich agricultural heritage that is on the verge of becoming merely bittersweet nostalgia. It is then up to the community to provide an outlet for this quality food to get to the people. Farmers’ markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture, and natural foods markets, like co-ops, are just some of the ways to help close the loop.
Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative
In the recent Q&A with Louella Hill (what a fabulous woman with good, positive ideas for changing the way we think about food), there was but one thing that was disappointing to me.
A reader asked, “What writers are doing the best job of spreading the word about the importance of buying food from local sources?” Ms. Hill’s answer was missing one very important mention, in my opinion: Gary Nabhan’s book Coming Home to Eat. As she mentions that she is a native Arizonan, I was surprised she overlooked this amazing book. My eyes were opened and my mouth watered while I read about his experiment of eating locally while living in one of those difficult arid climates — Tucson, Ariz.
I love what Louella does — striving to make others aware of where their food comes from, supporting local growers, and making the connection between freshness, flavor, and meaning.
But I found her response about Whole Foods Market interesting. She gives the company credit for educating consumers about important food topics like organics, GMOs, and hormone-free, but then goes on to criticize them for not carrying local Rhode Island milk that could possibly be tainted with hormones.
I find it hard to believe that the Rhode Island farmers “cannot control their milk.” If it is a financial concern, Whole Foods Market has an Animal Compassion Foundation to help in such situations. If those farmers are eligible for funding, they can choose to be responsible for how their milk is processed.
In any case, it sounds like her “biggest pain in the ass” should be those farmers who use rBGH willingly — not Whole Foods Market, whose worldwide movement this summer has been to educate customers about the advantages of supporting local growers with their “Eat Seasonal, Buy Regional” campaign.
Louella, keep up the great work!
Whole Foods Market
Girls are juveniles; women are adults. How about some respect for Louella Hill? Do you refer to men as boys?
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Please tell Ms. Harrison to get out to an organic farm and ask the producer why his/her product costs more. Quite simply, it’s because the higher price is what allows a farmer to make a profit without government subsidies and without going head-over-ass in debt.
I’m glad a big-city woman chose to write an article on organic farming, but if she wants to know what all goes into raising healthy crops and livestock, she needs to get some dirt under her nails and some manure on her boots. She’d enjoy it, I’m sure.
La Rue, Ohio
Editor’s note: You can find lots more discussion about organic farming in Gristmill, Grist‘s blog.
Re: Reservoir Logs
Thanks for spreading the word about underwater timber. We at Underwater Timber Corp. have permits to remove the logs from the Columbia River and are doing so now. We are amazed at the number of lost saw logs that are navigational hazards to the public, not a habitat for the fish, and moving with the river to be lost in the ocean someday. We are diligent in our purpose as stewards of the river and this resource. Seeing every log removed as one less to be removed from our forest has our company loving our jobs and dedicated to our purpose.
Underwater Timber Corp.
St. Helens, Ore.
Re: China Syndromes
Though many of us are averse to business because of its value-bereft tendencies, the fact is that the market in many ways dictates how the average citizen impacts the natural world. Creating a sustainable and values-based society demands that we make changes to the way people do business (in the broadest sense). And these changes require that we bring a new consciousness to formerly “dirty” tools — marketing, finance, technology, etc.
Thanks for staying on top of it, Grist!
Re: Born to Rewild
Josh Donlan’s “replacement of extinct megafauna” argument does make sense on a theoretical basis, but that is where the logic ends. While theories on why many of these creatures went extinct vary (some blame climate change, some blame early humans), the facts remain that their time has passed. The American climate, ecosystems, and evolutionary pathways have changed, as have the factors influencing the descendants of “our” megafauna, now in Asia and Africa.
Also, the potential for unforeseen negative consequences is very high, humans being notorious for causing more problems than they solve regarding introduced species. If native animals interact closely with those from other continents, there is massive risk for the exchange of parasites, bacteria, and/or viruses wreaking havoc on a fresh batch of victims without any of the defenses inherent in the natural processes of co-evolution. We are already in a war with invasive species, and this idea is akin to handing nuclear weapons to the enemy. (Oh wait; we did that, didn’t we?)
While we must surely strive to conserve native flora and fauna, and restore populations of creatures that have been lost due to modern human activities, I feel that introducing non-native animals or trying to bring back long-extinct animals can only be a step in the wrong direction.
Re: Paper or Drastic
I occasionally read Umbra’s column and find it a very valuable source of information. I’m writing in regards to a repeated theme in her answers: Think Big. She has repeatedly encouraged people not to sweat the small stuff when it comes to saving the environment, and there seems to be no doubt that reducing one’s consumer waste won’t even make a dent in the total human footprint — let alone save the world.
However, I would suggest that supporting these concerns is still valuable for another reason: education. Umbra should encourage people to continue learning about their own small footprint in the journey toward total environmental stewardship.