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Mailbox, Spring 2009

Judging what's on the table, questioning what's on the cover.
By Jane Greer
Spring 2009 2.15.09

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From the volume of letters that we received about John Gibb Millspaugh’s feature “Dinner Dilemmas” (Winter 2008), which analyzed the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner in ethical terms, it’s clear that people are passionate about food. Fifteen out of a total of 66 letters addressed the topic.

Some complained that Millspaugh dismissed local produce too quickly. “The dichotomy between supporting local farmers and providing ‘2 cents of every dollar you spend’ to impoverished farmers in developing countries is a false choice,” wrote Jason Delaney of Atlanta, Georgia. “Surely, we could spend our dollar on locally farmed food and donate 2 cents to foreign aid without needing to hand 98 cents to . . . well-off members of the distribution chain.”

Cecil E. Bohanon of Muncie, Indiana, questioned the value of buying free-range turkeys, especially since free-range birds seem to have minimally better living conditions:“To pay $6.05 a pound for a turkey because the bird got a door to go in and out of before it was slaughtered seems mighty peculiar,” he wrote.

We received a handful of letters each about Robert W. Fuller and Pamela A. Gerloff’s feature, “Be a Dignitarian,” Warren R. Ross’s news article about the UUA Principles and Purposes, and Ed Doerr’s book review essay.

The Winter 2008 cover, however, drew four letters. Most were concerned about the bird depicted, which turns out to be a species of robin alien to the United States. “Why in the world did you put a painting of a European bird on your cover?” wrote Dorothea Barker of Bowling Green, Ohio. “Why not stick to birds your readers will be able to identify?” Carol Cole-Lewis of Kelseyville, California, however, found humor in the cover: “I know the economy is less than stellar,” she wrote. “So when I saw a picture of a tiny little bird along with the sub-headline ‘Thanksgiving Dinner Choices,’ my muse was greatly amused!”

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