March 21-27, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Ag rag

"The Ag Report" (March 7) presented some misleading information when referring to our Sebastopol farm, Laguna Farm, and we'd like to comment. First, Jonah Raskin makes the increasingly common error of confusing the words "certified organic" and "organic" (he stated that our farm was not organic). Laguna Farm has chosen to drop our organic certification in the face of rising bureaucratic costs and lowered standards (following the implementation of the National Organic Program in 2002), but that does not mean that our standards have changed; in fact, we now refer to our methods as being "beyond organic," because they exceed those of national certification. This error reinforces the bureaucratic notion that if a produce item isn't certified, it isn't organic--a regrettable concept.

While we certainly understand the need for certification in situations where the consumer doesn't have access to the producer, there is a much bigger picture involved here.

There is another petty error that Raskin made that probably doesn't need to be printed, but it's also regrettable: he stated that I "[don't] hide the fact that [my] parents gave [me] the land and that [I don't] have a mortgage to pay." In fact, my parents still own the land and we do pay them a sizable rent. This is regrettable in that readers will get the impression that at least one farm in Sonoma County doesn't have an overhead--wishful thinking and a marvelous idea, but unfortunately not true.

Scott Mathieson, Laguna Farm, Sebastopol

Poisoned air?

On Monday, March 12, I went out to walk my dog. The air outside was so bad that I had to go back inside. The sky was clear and there was no wind that morning. I know from past year's experience that on still mornings the farmers are out spraying. They are not allowed to spray on windy days.

I felt so bad that day I could hardly function. Other people I know also remarked how nasty the air was that day. It was not just around my house, but all around town.

When I'm housebound by the air, I always think about all the people out doing their daily work. People don't tend to consider how chemicals in the air can affect their thinking and emotions. I worry about bad decisions made, arguments and depression caused by what's in the air.

That day, I was so out of it I kept having this repetitive thought: "It's legal to kill people with pesticide in this county." Later, when my mind cleared, I felt like that was a stupid thought.

The next morning, I heard a Sebastopol resident describing the very strange behavior of wild birds at her house that Monday morning.

Then I found out about the young boy who was shot to death by the cops that same morning, and that he only had a pocketknife on him.

It made me think about my repetitive thought. Maybe it was not so stupid. I could not help but wonder if the air had been clean that morning, would things have turned out differently? Did whatever was in the air affect judgement?

In this county, we are not privy to how much is being sprayed until long after the fact. We should know when all the farmers are spraying.

Denise Lebel, Sebastopol

May as well ask as anything

We just wrote senators Feinstein and Boxer asking that they please only vote for a supplementary budget that includes language dictating a withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2007 and requiring congressional authorization for any military action against Iran.

Although there may be pressure to weaken the Supplemental War Appropriations bill, they can push for the kind of brave and principled stances that will bring our troops home.

Remember that "supporting the troops" means bringing them home, not keeping them in the middle of an Iraqi civil war or bogging them down in a larger regional war in Iran. Real support for the troops means making sure that no more of them die for a war we never should have gotten into. Have you heard the reports from the Iraqi people on BBC? We urge your readers to write them, too.

Barby and Vic Ulmer, Saratoga

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St., Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111

Please give Feinstein the Boho's best regards . . .

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