Letters for the Week of August 24 

Readers sound off on teaching yoga, Toby Keith, and food trucks.

Page 3 of 4

Jimmy Hutto, Pensacola, Florida

Phillies/Orioles, 1970-1975

Unfairness and Injustice

I'm so glad this is getting more coverage. Doug Gladstone is a hero to the families who fell through the cracks. My late father, Nelson ("Nellie") King, who was a relief pitcher for the Pirates from 1954-57, was one such player. He died one year ago today, at age 82. In the last year of his life, he published his baseball memoirs, for which we created this blog: HappinessIsLikeACurDog.Blogspot.com. The last few years of his life were spent in poor health and pain, with the anxiety of not having enough money for care. The unfairness of it all and the callousness of MLB and the union are stunning.

Laurie King, Washington, DC

0x201CHow Safe Is Your Soil?,0x201D Feature, 8/3

Food for Thought

The article may imply to many readers that backyard veggies from soils with elevated lead may be or are likely to be unsafe to eat. However, research shows that lead uptake by vegetables in soils with elevated lead is very low. That does not mean you should not take precautions. Nothing we do in life is risk-free, but most risk can be reduced using a variety of different methods.

The best paper I found while reviewing the literature was a Cornell University paper entitled "Lead in Urban-grown Vegetables" (see CCESchenectady.org). This paper states, "with soils of very high organic matter content (40-50 percent or greater), no lead uptake was found even if the lead present in the soil was as high as 3,000 ppm." Many papers indicated that managing soil pH was also important.

The research I reviewed shows that soil with high organic matter substantially reduces lead uptake. Compost is free and is an excellent source of organic matter. In general, the organic content of finished composts ranges from 30-70 percent. Compost is locally produced from green-waste collection programs and it is given away monthly by the carload or truckload. 

Furthermore, the research shows no significant uptake into tree fruits and fruit-like vegetables (such as tomatoes). Root veggies may require some consideration due to direct soil exposure.  According to Cornell, one precaution in high-lead soils is to "peel root crops such as beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes before eating." The primary risk of lead exposure is through ingestion of lead-contaminated soil and dust, so wash everything thoroughly before eating it.

The Express article scared me and motivated me to do further research for my own benefit.  Hopefully this summary will benefit other backyard gardeners, too. My view now is that the Express article implies greater risks of lead uptake by vegetables in urban gardens than may actually exist.   

Some food for thought.

Greg San Martin, Berkeley

"Cut the Music, Bring the Noise," Music, 7/27

Labor Costs Money

Musicians should be paid, especially when the merchants are making money off their music. Do we want a Solano Stroll that dumps on the musicians and doesn't ask the merchants to carry their share? Musicians have a hard enough time getting by in hard times to take another hit from people and businesses who want to benefit from their skills without paying anything. The Stroll is asking workers to work for free; try asking a plumber or contractor or a shopkeeper to work for tips.

David Weber, Oakland

"The Elephant in the Room," Feature, 7/27

Democrats Are to Blame, Too

Thanks to the Express and Darwin BondGraham for his excellent article. However, the subtitle, which blames the GOP for our fiscal mess, is misleading. Despite supposedly different philosophies, the actions and inactions of our Democratic leaders have the same results as the anti-tax and anti-government policies of the GOP. Two examples: first, the actions by California's governor to save money by cutting services, including education and programs for seniors and the disabled — reductions that actually will cost us more, and his failure to follow through on his pledge to seek new taxes from even the most wealthy; and second, the failure of our president to fight for raising taxes, as did Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, which, when spent properly, lead to job creation.

History shows that a vibrant economy is based on a circulation of funds that creates higher employment and greater prosperity. All must pay their fair share of taxes to make this happen. Massive tax cuts result in the killing of jobs and the ruining of the economy. The actions by both Republicans and Democrats to allow a continued concentration of funds in fewer hands and to cut programs can only lead to a deeper economic downturn. And you know what happens to a society where there is no vision.

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