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Forum, Oct. 16: NH losing the big picture on value of organic farming

Published: 10/15/2021 10:00:01 PM
Modified: 10/15/2021 10:00:11 PM
NH losing the big picture on value of organic farming

I read with concern the Oct. 12 article “New rules surprise organic farmers.” New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner Shawn Jasper notes the cost and complexity of certifying organic farming practices and the lack of state resources, saying farmers pay New Hampshire less than what they might pay a private organization, and “We shouldn’t be looking to other taxpayers to cover the cost.”

As one of those “other taxpayers,” I want to respond to this assertion. Too often people view organic farming as an expensive outlier in the agriculture business and see obtaining organically produced products as a luxury. The big picture is often lost.

Sustainable organic farming and production affect all of us. First and most obvious, illnesses and other conditions are increasingly linked to chemicals we put in our mouths and on our bodies. For our health, organic products should be made easier to obtain by all who want them, not just those who can afford higher prices.

Second, organic farming practices have a dramatic impact on our environment and farm workers. According to NHLakes.org, over 90% of the water quality problems in New Hampshire’s lakes and rivers are caused by polluted runoff water, including fertilizer. According to the EPA, “Excess fertilizers and pesticides can poison aquatic animals and lead to destructive algae blooms.” A recent report from Farmworker Justice addresses the “serious health risks faced by thousands of farmworkers each year from pesticide exposure.”

How many of my taxpayer dollars are going toward cleaning up New Hampshire’s lakes and rivers from polluted runoff? How much toward the health care and disability support of sick farm workers or individuals whose health is affected by exposure to agricultural chemicals? How does this compare to the small subsidies to the 44 farmers and processors whose livelihoods and ability to continue sustainable organic production will be affected by this ruling? Conversely, how many of my taxpayer dollars are going toward subsidizing other non-organic forms of agriculture in this state and in the country?

We should be doing more, not less, to support organic farming and production.

BONNIE KIMMELMAN

Lebanon

Killing chicken was not a ‘gift’

The premise of Suzanne Lupien’s opinion column — killing a hen for pot pie presented as a hardworking chicken’s last “gift” — was false (“The best chicken pie ever,” Oct. 3). A gift is a thing given willingly. The chicken did not give up her life of her own free will — did not hand herself over as a gift to be pinned down, beheaded and eaten.

Taking the life of a bird past egg-bearing was uncalled for. There was no legitimate reason to slaughter her — certainly not for the hen — as it is well-established that no one needs to eat animals. Plant-based diets are the healthiest, the fact of which moves killing animals for food into the realm of ethics and makes it wrong. Also, older birds have value, according to those who are humane and knowledgeable, including Purina nutritionist Patrick Biggs. He states: “A hen can continue to be a valued member of your flock after her peak production has passed. Retired hens provide great companionship and often become leaders in their flocks, showing younger birds the ropes.”

This column was not about “gratitude,” as it was titled, because gratitude means to show appreciation for and to return kindness. In truth, it was about taking with a “calm heart” from a sentient being the one thing we all value most — life — simply for palate pleasure and dressing it up as gratitude.

It’s time for the Valley News to stop printing rubbish that continues to normalize and promote unhealthy diets and animal cruelty, willfully ignoring the sick and harmful subtexts and ugly truths of the articles and photographs it prints.

MARGARET D. HURLEY

Claremont

Joe Kenney toes Trump line

Quite soon after New Hampshire Executive Councilor Joe Kenney voted “party over health” and against continued funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, he’s done it again. Even our party-line governor, Chris Sununu, criticized Kenney for refusing to accept a $27 million grant to help get more New Hampshire citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 (“$27M for vaccine outreach nixed,” Oct. 14).

Talk about hewing to the “TOP” party line — it has become “Trump’s Own Party” — instead of working for the greater community good of improving statewide health.

I can’t wait for the next election reckoning for Councilor Kenney, who is supposed to be representing the interests of every town in District 1. It really is time for him to go.

MICHAEL WHITMAN

Lyme

We need to be able to trust our health care workers

Talking with a member of my extended family last December, he said he was volunteering at his local hospital (in another state) delivering meals to patients who did not have COVID-19. He hadn’t yet been tested. His wife is a nurse practitioner. They weren’t concerned about COVID-19. In fact, they’d been having friends over for dinner and going about their daily routines as usual. Thankfully, that hospital shut down its volunteer program the next week, and when eligible, the family member and his wife did get vaccinated.

But based on that conversation, I postponed my cancer screening test scheduled for February here. I told my doctor that I would wait until I was fully vaccinated (the test was done in April).

Forum contributor Paul Manganiello, a physician, is absolutely correct (“Vaccine avoidance by health workers incomprehensible,” Oct 4). If you consider yourself a health care worker, but cannot care about your health and that of others, then get out of that profession. Find another career. I applaud that decision.

We who come into hospitals need to be able to trust that those taking care of us really do care about our health.

NANCY FRANKLIN

Plainfield

A fascinating ‘Post’ story about abortion in Mississippi

I was fascinated by the Washington Post story on Aug. 29, “Up to the Supreme Court,” which was ostensibly about “the Pink House,” alias Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but was actually about the plight of poor Black women in Mississippi and why access to abortion appears their only viable option.

The statement that “women of childbearing age in this country have grown up under Roe and have never known a world in which they cannot control their own lives and futures in this way” is very telling.

Every Supreme Court appointee has been asked, usually by Democrats, to affirm Roe v. Wade as settled law. However, recent laws enacted by state legislatures, especially “heartbeat laws,” have shaken up the apple cart, and the recent law enacted by Texas was unmolested by the Supreme Court because it is to be enforced civilly and not criminally. Washington Post opinion columnist Henry Olsen, in a piece published Sept. 4 (“Court had no reason to block Texas abortion law”), noted that individuals, and not the state, would be responsible for civil litigation, so there is no clear evidence of harm inflicted.

The real problem is that about 75% of abortions in Mississippi are performed on Black women in a state where about 38% of the population is Black.

One young woman interviewed by The Post was contemplating a fifth abortion to preserve her earning power. The original rationale that abortion be permitted for the health of a woman has been expanded to encompass social, emotional, economic and mental health.

It is commendable that many pro-life activists recognize a need for practical assistance to women they are trying to discourage from having abortions, even offering one six months’ rent and computer training.

That brings up Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Derzis claims she is doing God’s work by providing abortions and leaving Bibles and crosses in the Pink House. She might claim to be a Christian, but if “the tree is known by its fruit,” hers is the termination of thousands of Black lives.

WILLIAM A. WITTIK

Hartford




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