Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of August 15 – 22, 2011

Readers write in with words on the 'Write stuff' and tastes on 'America's new culinary renaissance.'

Words for writers' workshop

I was dissatisfied with the June 27 Focus story, "Writing's fertile ground." The article purportedly set out to discuss "how serious writing [is] doing in an age of Twitter and Mortal Kombat" and instead discusses, not the success of writing as a craft, but that of the Iowa Writers' Workshop in particular.

The article claims that "schools like Iowa ... encourage variety" and furthermore, that this is one reason why writing today is alive and well. How can the piece substantiate this claim by citing the popular success of a science-fiction writer and a TV writer, when science fiction and television scripts are the epitome of the formulaic?

In fact, some readers fear there is a sameness in spirit, subject, tone, voice, style, and technique in today's poetry and prose that may well be a result of the influence of modern writing workshops.

AliCarmen Carico

Weed, Calif.

[Editor's note: The original version of this letter incorrectly identified letter writer AliCarmen Carico as an alumna of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.]

Digesting a foodie nation

The July 11 Focus story, "Foodie nation," discusses American fanaticism with food, spinning it as a "cutesy" trend. Rather, I view it as a societal ill: Buying food, preparing food, and eating – constantly thinking about food – has become a national disorder. The wisdom of Socrates is better followed: "Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat."

Phil Griswold

Farmington Falls, Maine

Perhaps one reason more people are joining the party in the kitchen, as described in "Foodie Nation," is precisely because, as editor John Yemma points out in his UpFront column, "Upstream factories take care of the dirty work of slaughtering, skinning, and cleaning."

Many people are happy to have a "farm to table" experience if the farm is growing organic arugula or purple carrots. But without the close knowledge of the conditions in which our food animals are slaughtered, caught, or raised, do we really strike a blow against an "industrialized food system" just because we can cook bouillabaisse or braised short ribs?

It's delicious and guilt-free fun to consume more and more meat – current estimates are about eight ounces a day for Americans, twice the global average – if you choose to remain unaware of the factory-farm conditions, resource depletion, and environmental degradation that allow this ever-increasing demand to be met.

Lisa Adam

Edinburg, Texas

While covering many facets of the new culinary renaissance, the article overlooked an entire region that leads the nation in the sustainable dining movement. Please include Portland, Ore., in your future research. We have foodies hiding behind every tree ... and dining opportunities that will leave you exclaiming!

William Waterman

Lake Oswego, Ore.

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