Girls and guys gotta eat

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Thank you for your recent feature article on Community Food Systems ["Food fights," July 10, 2007]. I wanted to provide additional information aimed at strengthening our community-based food system (and national security too). Your article described well the benefits of local foods. You asked, "Seem confusing?" Not really. You are what you eat, and everyone benefits from knowing where their food comes from. Can you imagine not researching a home purchase, or your cell phone plan? Why would it not make sense to thoroughly understand—and invest in—what you put into your body, the very core of staying alive?

Our food system requires both more awareness and stronger linkages. For instance, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares remain available in Louisa’s "beyond organic" Ploughshare Community Farm (call Tony Lagana at (540) 967-9511 for a pro-rated rate). Budget and logistical constraints don’t allow schools to easily incorporate locally based foods. Our area still has prevalent hunger. Most farmers have to haul their animals to a nonlocal processing facility, adding expense and environmental impact. A regional (and state) Food Policy Council consisting of diverse stakeholders could help correct these problems.

The Buy Fresh, Buy Local Guide is hardly exclusive: Every farm, shop, or restaurant we could locate was asked to fill out a survey for inclusion. Anyone interested in being added can go here: http://www.buylocalcville.org/.

Community food is yet another area where stereotyping is dangerous and un-constructive. For instance, I am an environmental scientist and sustainability advocate; environmental and safety manager for the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority and Rivanna Solid Waste Authority; and, a UVA student with the Urban & Environmental Planning Department and Institute for Environmental Negotiation. Labeling me as an "academic," "environmentalist," "government worker" serves no purpose.  Most folks interested in local food have similar diversity and share many common goals.

The differences highlighted in your article are more about people having different priorities than disagreement. For example, Kathryn Russell is rightfully concerned about how regulations affect her farm’s bottom line. However, perhaps a city resident looking to capitalize on a bumper crop of patio tomatoes or at-risk youth seeking out educational opportunities will find a Community Kitchen beneficial.

To learn more about EAT Local, go to: http://www.tjpdc.org/environment/eatlocal.asp and for the Virginia Food Security Summit: www.virginia.edu/foodsummit/ien.

Meg, and everyone, I hope you continue to seek out local foods since indeed "a girl’s gotta eat": You will find increased health and satisfaction as a result!

Anne T. Bedarf
Albemarle County
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The not O.K. corral

I write in response to Kyle Daly’s article, “Dissertations we’ll never read” [UVA News, June 19, 2007]. As the author of the offending dissertation, I hope you will give me a few minutes to respond to what seems like a rather mean-spirited and misleading assault on two years of scholarship.

Mr. Daly focused entirely on the subtitle (“Cowboy Sports in Postmodern Age”) and ignored the main title: “Inventing Tradition.” As a native Oklahoman who’s lived most of his 52 years in a region steeped in the stew of cowboy culture, I have always been fascinated by the resilience of Western themes. My interest is in the image that America has nurtured and, indeed, exported to the entire world. As I argue in my dissertation, America’s foundation myths are battered but far from beaten, and they survive in the “cowboy sports” that constitute my units of analysis.

Second, Mr. Daly’s fixation on rodeo is totally off base. Sports that fall under the rubric of cowboy sports are far less professionalized than rodeo, and they attract people of all ages and socio economic levels—and, I might add, both genders—who are drawn to working cattle under the tyranny of a digital clock, within the confines of an arena, and far from the limelight. To dismiss them as frivolous makes me wonder about Mr. Daly’s attitude toward sports in general. If he is indeed hostile to sports, then he’d be in good company: There’s no dearth of sociologists who think that sports aren’t worth writing about. (I figure they were the last ones chosen for pick-up baseball games when they were kids, but that’s another story.)

Finally, Mr. Daly characterizes cowboys as postmodern. That’s a cheap shot! Cowboys in their myriad of cultural manifestations represent a holdover from a preindustrial past. For all of our whizbang technology and worldly sophistication, we still have room for cowboys. And somehow, cowboys have cleared a little space in their own tortured souls
for postmodernity.

Seems to me that scouring the UVA bookshelves for dissertations to mock not only cheapens journalism; it also drives the wedge ever deeper between the University and its (semi) urban environs. Might I suggest a regular feature on scholarship that you’d like to read? How about profiles on up-and-coming scholars? If you insist on roasting people drawn to the life of the mind, at least get your facts straight before you draw your six-shooter.

Michael J. Hightower, Ph.D.
Charlottesville
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Good ride-ance

I just have to comment on this article by Wes McElroy regarding the TdF [“Bicycle blues,” July 17, 2007]. Just because pop culture got excited about Lance doing so well at the Tour, does not mean that cycling died when he left (though it may have for the author, and that’s fine).

Every real cycling fan will watch the Tour no matter what, and by any means necessary (following it on the Web, going out to restaurants who show it, going to friends house, upgrading their cable to get Versus, etc). It doesn’t matter if Lance is there or not. In fact, I’m glad he’s gone; he made the Tour boring in my opinion. As of today, there are eight guys who have a real shot at winning the overall. Eight guys with a shot to win going into the mountains where it’s going to get very interesting…how cool is that?

The past few years it was Lance, and that was it. A couple guys kept it somewhat interesting, but it was tough to watch Lance dominate over and over.

What I’m saying is, if you just watched the Tour because of Lance, you’re not a cycling fan; you’re on the bandwagon.

I’m not saying he didn’t have an incredible impact on the sport and got a lot of people interested in cycling, and he has a very  inspirational story, but cycling is bigger than one man.

Europeans understand cycling, too bad not enough Americans do.

Matthew Day
Charlottesville
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Battle scars

Thank you for bringing us the story of James and Heidi Wilson [“Iraq vet’s journey from soldier to ‘malingerer,’” Government News, July 24, 2007]. It is important for our community to remember how close the war in Iraq is to our community as well as other communities across the country, and that oftentimes, the war doesn’t end for soldiers when they leave the battlefield. You have to wonder what was harder for Mr. Wilson, his fight against government bureaucracy or Iraqi militants?  

When we ask someone to risk life and limb to serve our country, we should cover every medical expense that soldier has as a result of his or her service, even if those expenses last the rest of that soldier’s life. It would be one thing if this was an isolated case that fell through the cracks, but many military families have experienced similar circumstances. I think it’s far more important for our veterans to have comfort and peace of mind than giving tax breaks to corporations. At least, those were the American values that I grew up with.

Dan Kachur
Albemarle County

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