Consumer responsibility

I would like to add a practical suggestion to the article ``Saving Soil Resources Needs High Priority,'' Dec. 27.

Although I have farmed most of my life, I am not self-sufficient and a major portion of the family's menu is purchased in the marketplace. Consumers can find a direct way of expressing their responsibility and accountability for the land at the marketplace.

The value of produce is usually judged by appearance, taste, and availability. But we need to see the head of lettuce or pound of potatoes as reflecting the growers' stewardship of the land and their concern for workers. While it often requires extra shopping effort and usually a bit higher price, we can find some food items grown in ways that mitigate the problems pointed out by the article. In-season market gardens, natural food stores, mail order, and even some of the chains provide such ``value added'' foods.

Perhaps some legislative steps are necessary, but we can express our concerns for the land and its stewards right now by supporting those producers already exercising a sound land ethic. It can be fun too. Bob Erb, Somers, Mont.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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