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On America's good food fight; rhetoric and the Tucson shootings; and American tourists' image

January 17, 2011

On the farm

Re "America's good food fight," Opinion, Jan. 9

It's unfortunate that Nicolette Hahn Niman believes people are being forced to make a choice between conventionally and organically grown food. She labels food according to farming practices (hers is the "good way") yet seems uninformed about conventional farming today.

The fact is that small-, medium- and large-scale growers today provide conventional and organic food. They employ sustainable, food safety and traceability practices. Most organic produce today is grown by diversified farmers, sometimes called "big ag," which are really third- and fourth-generation family farms that have been successful because they are good stewards of the land.

What's most important in this discussion of "good food" is how we all can contribute to better nutrition and eating habits for every American, instead of promoting a unified theory of how to farm.

Tom Nassif


The writer is president and chief executive of the Western Growers Assn.

Cheers to Niman for her insightful Op-Ed article on the false choice between sustainable farming and cheap food.

The government's words don't match up with its actions. We are told that we should eat more fruits and vegetables, while less than 1% of agricultural subsidies go toward growing fruits and vegetables.

As a result, the price of fruits and vegetables has increased by more than 30% over the last 30 years while the prices of most other foods have dropped.

I do, however, take issue with Niman's claim that individuals can do little to solve the problem. With the right setup and some basic coaching, many Los Angeles residents could grow their own fruits and vegetables for far less than they cost to purchase at a grocery store.

In my experience there is no better way to foster healthy eating than growing your own heirloom tomatoes.

Dan Allen


Just tone it down some

Re "The exploitive rhetoric of tragedy," Opinion, Jan. 11

I am not surprised that Jonah Goldberg sticks up for Sarah Palin, who practices what she sees as her constitutional right to post cross-hairs over the districts of elected officials with whom she disagrees.

I don't think any reasonable person, left or right, is trying to tell these flammables to shut up, as Goldberg claims. We're

just asking them to disagree without incendiary intimations of hate and murder.

Bruce Stevenson

Newbury Park

Accusing the other side of doing the same is an evasive tactic.

Although Keith Olbermann ("partisan ghoul?" Really now) and his ilk may be guilty of overblown rhetoric, you don't hear Democrats urging their followers to bring guns to town hall meetings, join them for target practice or make sure they're armed at all times.

Democrats are too wrapped up in their angst over whether President Obama is tough enough on Republicans, who have verbally assaulted him in the halls of government and in some cases deny his American citizenship.

Is Goldberg so defensive that he cannot admit that some members of his party have gotten out of control? Why does he feel the need to defend what is indefensible?

Debra Kaufman


Goldberg would have us believe that political vitriol from politicians and pundits (as well as the gratuitous violence in the media) had nothing whatsoever to do with the Tucson massacre.

Of course there's no direct link or proof of this. But Goldberg certainly thinks of himself as persuasive — that he influences the opinions and voting of those who read him.

His column would have been more meaningful had he discussed why and how greater civility should be brought to our dialogue and writing.

Hal Rothberg


Holding the center

Re "Obama gains in tug of war for center," Jan. 8

The Times writes that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) "was careful not to claim a governing mandate from last fall's election." It's possible that the word "mandate" never passed his lips, but it is impossible that he didn't imply a mandate and is not acting on it.

In another Jan. 8 article, The Times quotes Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) as saying, "We're here responding to the will of the American people. They threw out a whole bunch of members of Congress in constitutional fashion and replaced them with people who took the oath and the pledge to come here to repeal 'Obamacare.'"

The politicians get an A for stating they have a mandate without using the word. The Times gets an F for not seeing through the charade.

Mitch Engel

Los Angeles

Obama's ploy is akin to offering the American people an aspirin after two years of hitting them over the head with a rock. The superficial reconfiguration of the White House staff (rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?) is the result of the voters' rejection of his actions as registered in November's election.

A spotless leopard is still a leopard.

Jefferson C. Romney

Westlake Village

Good Americans

Re "From ugly to just plain American," Opinion, Jan. 10

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