Letters for November 5 

Readers sound off on the Slow Food movement, gluten-free pizza, binge lending, and the Oakland Housing Authority.

"Slow Food for All?" Food & Drink, 10/1

The Price of Food Justice

Yes, Americans' disconnect with where their food comes from does merit the need for slowing down and reestablishing that connection. The Slow Food movement does a good job of making people aware of the implications and consequences of their food choices. But the point I think the author and the panelists are trying to make is that this effort should not be limited to just those with privilege who can afford to pay a premium price for what is real, natural, and fair food. Instead, the Slow Food movement will only increase the gap between the rich and the poor if they do not strive to include the nation's, and the world's, underserved population and address the issues of food justice. The root of the problem is not in the way Americans eat. It's in government subsidies, unequal distribution of resources, and structural inequality. When people can't afford the price of rice or can't get a fresh tomato from their local store, any food movement should take on those challenges as a central goal.

Diana Abellera, Berkeley

Polenta vs. Grits

I really enjoyed the article about Slow Food in your Taste section. However, I wonder why so many influential people seem to be relying on Slow Food to do the work of food justice. Slow Food is by and for the elites, and it has become part of the greater phenomenon of personality cult around food celebrities who use it for their personal gain and of their friends and associates. Unfortunately, the mainstream media will always care more about polenta with sugo and those consuming it than grits with ham hocks.

Peter Jackson, Berkeley

"Gluten-Free Glutton," Food & Drink, 10/1

Enjoyed Every Bite

My family and I recently ordered a gluten-free pizza from Amici's in Dublin and we all thought it tasted delicious. Even those of us in the group who are not gluten-intolerant enjoyed every bite. We ordered it with tomatoes, green pepper, garlic, and olives, which I think is a great combination of flavors. Amici's typically does not put a lot of sauce on their pizza, but the cheese and toppings are also adding to the overall flavor. Every pizzeria is different and knowing what topping go best with their sauce and cooking style is a huge part of it.

Sharrie Bettencourt, Pleasanton

We're Grateful

There are eleven restaurants in the Bay Area now offering Still Riding Pizza. Amici's alone is selling hundreds of gluten-free pizzas per week. I've shared this pizza with the most discriminating chefs and received nothing but high praise.

Kathleen, I'm completely shocked at your review. Everyday I open several e-mails from grateful celiacs who rave about our gluten-free pizza and the restaurants who so graciously serve them. Food servers tell me it makes their day when they see kids happily chowing down on their yummy pizzas.

And as a highly sensitive celiac myself, I have not experienced one bad reaction.Cheers to all the Bay Area pizzerias who recognize the needs of celiacs!

LaRae Bates, Concord

"Blame the System," Raising the Bar, 10/1

Not a Crime, But a Mistake

I hate to burst your bubble, but a contract is between two parties and it is understood that risk is to be roughly evenly apportioned. This is the core of contract law. Also, these contracts are civil issues. It only becomes criminal if it's fraud — i.e., someone makes knowing misrepresentations.

While the little guy might have practiced some tragically bad financial thinking, it's not criminal — it's civil. At least, it is unless they claimed to be making more money than they were — which the vast majority of them didn't. So, if anyone in the mix is a criminal, it's either the people who made the loans or the people who made the rules.

You hit the nail on the head — this was binge lending. It takes two to tango. The only reason that this is having this impact is because the rules changed and allowed these loans to be sold as low-risk "securities" when they were wildly overvalued.

Should we mark down the values of these properties? Yes. Should we adjust the rules to keep lending from going amok? Yes. Should we kick around these homeowners? No. They were offered something, let into a contract, perhaps let into other refinancing contracts, and — in the end — couldn't uphold their end of a contract. This is business as usual and should be treated as such.

The crime was tying them to the core of value in our economy — banks, pensions, money market funds, etc. The crime was overvaluing these properties. The crime was building a market that was 100 percent leveraged, 100 percent of the time. The tragedy was that there really was no crime. We are living in a country where financial "rape" was effectively LEGAL! This wasn't a crime, this was a mistake — and it was a big one — and it was by our government.

The only way to fix this is to vote in such a way as to effect real change. I don't know how to make that happen — but as a citizen, I have to take responsibility for it. No one else will, apparently. Least of all Joe Blow Voter.

Jayson Vantuyl, San Francisco


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