In the EarthTalk article "How to spend your organic budget wisely" (July 28), advice is offered on which fruits and vegetables are most likely to carry the largest pesticide and fertilizer residues. Buy organic celery and apples; don't worry so much about onions and eggplant. While I agree that this is helpful from a personal perspective, I feel that it misses a very important aspect of the whole notion of organic food production.
The real bottom line in best-practice farming is growing the soil, not the crops. A healthy soil, complete with minerals, nutrients and healthy organisms (bacteria, fungi, worms, insects and other creepy-crawlies), is the basis for long-term sustainable agriculture. Buying "organic" is more than protecting ourselves from potentially harmful chemicals. It is an investment in healthy soil. Think of the extra cost as a "soil tax."
Pay a little extra and encourage farmers to grow good dirt!
E Magazine's answer to the question on "buying local at the supermarket" (EarthTalk, Aug. 4) left much to be desired. The author advises those who can't find local food at chain grocers to seek out such alternatives as independent natural food stores, co-ops and farmers markets. In fact, the latter should always be the first choice, at least if you value the natural environment and the strength of the local economy.
There are numerous advantages to supporting locally owned businesses or buying direct from a local producer, too many to detail in a letter to the editor. Suffice it to say that what is needed is to turn E Magazine's paradigm on its head: buy whatever you can from locally owned businesses and seek only those necessities not otherwise available at chain stores.