Our fair article

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I am writing to express my appreciation for the feature article of last week’s issue, "Food Fights" [July 10, 2007]. I believe that Meg McEvoy did a good job of capturing many of the aspects of the local foods movement. Since this subject is easily one of the most important issues (and problems) of today, it is gratifying to see Ms. McEvoy addressing the issue accessibly and fairly. I hope that the C-VILLE Weekly continues to give this topic the fair and extensive coverage it deserves.
 
Laura Russell
North Garden
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Mystery solved

Dave Matthews band is once again in the news in "Mixed Rap for DMB" [7 Days, July 17, 2007]. The concluding sentence speaks to DMB contributions to Community Bikes. The author comments on the mystery of where these bikes might be. Folks might be thinking back to the predecessor of Community Bikes, The Yellow Bikes program. Just the other day during open shop hours, I watched a young woman revamp on old yellow bike and put it back on the road.  (She in return will volunteer three hours of her time at the bike shop as part of the earn-a-bike program).

DMB has given thousands of dollars to support both current and past incarnations of bike programming here in Charlottesville—right now this means contributing to the current Community Bikes which continues with its mission of recycling bicycles to provide eco-friendly travel, providing youth mentorship programs, as well as providing our city a place for folks to learn useful bike maintenance and repair skills. (Not to mention an occassional bike-in movie or pancake breakfast.)

Currently we have open shop hours from 2-5 on Fridays and Saturdays. Come on down and work on bike, drop off donations, or volunteer your time to work with a neighborhood kiddo on their ride.

Shelly Stern
Program Coordinator
Community Bikes
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Girls and guys gotta eat

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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