Inbox — May 18, 2011

Letters to the Editor

May 18, 2011 at 5:00 am

In the May 11 cover story “The Good Thief,” state auditor Crit Luallen’s comparison of Dismas Charities’ executive culture to that of Kentucky Retirement Systems should have been between Dismas and the Kentucky League of Cities. LEO regrets the error.

Not So Green
David Serchuk’s April 20 LEO story on green giants in our community was good, but the supposed “green” takeout container portion could have benefited from a little more research. The reason paper bags and so-called compostable containers cost more is that it takes more energy to produce them. Add to the fact that trees are cut down or taxpayer-subsidized grains are used, the negative impact on food availability for the poor, and the contribution to rising food prices, these takeout containers are clearly not “green.”

This marketing gimmick preys on our emotions in thinking compostable is better than plastic, but you have to do a life-cycle analysis and look at the whole picture with an analytical approach. They also do not compost well. A quick look in the trash can at public places where these are used reveals trash mixed with them. And at home, well-meaning people put them in their recycling bins where they contaminate the lot and cost money to the city.

We need to concentrate on things that really matter and will make a difference in the world. Practices that cost businesses money and actually cause harm to the environment need to be exposed, not touted. And as customers, when we do things that make us feel good, we sometimes end up wasting more resources because we justify it by listening to these marketing claims. Spend the money and time wisely.
Greg Zahradnik, Highlands

Demeaning Farmers?
As a CSA farmer, I found your interview with Ellen McGeeney in the article “Green giants” insulting (LEO Weekly, April 20). Apparently Grasshoppers’ latest marketing strategy is to disparage small CSAs as “impractical” and “not sustainable.” Although CSA is one of the few ways a small farmer can still make a living, McGeeney concludes that such farmers have it “perfect” and do not belong in “the real world.” McGeeney and Grasshoppers miss the whole point of Community Supported Agriculture. It’s not just food in a box.

The basic tenet of CSA is a direct relationship between farmer and eater. The middle people — the truckers, packagers, refrigerators, etc. — who traditionally reap the profits away from the farm, are left out, and thus a farmer is paid a fair wage, and an eater knows by name her farmer. We eat from one garden. Many of us share meals and work. It’s a simple and safe system. CSA members pay upfront, when many of the farm’s expenses are incurred. This also protects the grower from catastrophe, unlike other markets that leave him to financial failure. People who love being in a CSA — just like people who love to garden — do not do it because it is the most convenient thing in the world. It satisfies the soul.

Grasshoppers has swarmed on the label CSA, stripped it of its meaning, and, while trumpeting their magnanimity toward farmers, pursued standard agribusiness practice behind the façade, demanding from farmers “as low a price as they can handle.” Grasshoppers — a distribution company — receives upfront payment but does not pay their growers upfront. The farmer accepts all the risk. This is not CSA.

Everything in America gets Walmart-ized. Perhaps a drive-thru CSA is most “practical.” But that will not cut it for someone who likes the annual odyssey of a real farm and wants to be close to the source of her food. Clearly Grasshoppers aims to be giant, but what is so green about demeaning farmers?
Carden Willis, Turners Station, Ky.