Vermont Meat Inspector Responds
I have been regulator with the Vermont Meat Inspection for almost 25 years. I have been called many things, but never a liar or a coward as Dr. Wyatt has chosen to do [“Emails Suggest Vermont Meat Inspector Knew About Animal Abuse,” March 24]. My comments were directed at the Humane Society of the United States, [which spent] seven weeks in the plant and one month editing so they could make the video, while inhumane activities were allowed to continue. Dr. Wyatt apparently allowed these inhumane activities to continue, too. Even though, from early July, after the third incident, until October 28, when the HSUS video was presented to the Agency [of Agriculture], Dr. Wyatt was still the public health veterinarian in charge of inspection activities at the plant. In that period, I don’t think Dr. Wyatt documented any inhumane handling, and I believe that he may have signed off on the verification plan that Food Safety and Inspection Service had established saying that the plant was doing what it was supposed to.
There is no question that I was aware of actions taken by FSIS in connection with the suspensions. What I didn’t know about were Dr. Wyatt’s nonactions after he decided that the FSIS system was not good enough and he contacted the HSUS.
Since Dr. Wyatt has whistle-blower status, it seems that he cannot be held accountable for neglecting his duties without claiming retaliation. Hmmm, a problem plant, a new inspector, you are in charge, and where were you?
As for Senator Giard, he has been known to speak without facts, so I will let that slide.
Randy J. Quenneville
Editor’s note: Dr. Dean Wyatt is not an official federal whistle-blower; he has not sought protections for speaking out against his employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, because he says such protections are too weak.
One of the aspects I find most disturbing about this situation is that the human beings involved, if they’re worried at all, worry more about food safety than the horrifically cruel treatment of animals that was going on at Bushway [“Emails Suggest Vermont Meat Inspector Knew About Animal Abuse,” March 24]. I sometimes wonder why the word humane has the word “human” in it. Every day we read about our dairy farms going out of business. Well, you know what? I really don’t care anymore if this is part of the business. I don’t care if it’s local, organic or humanely treated; I will not support an industry that tortures and disrespects the very creatures it depends on for its livelihood. Shame on anyone for choosing to be in the business of raising animals and not taking on the responsibility of caring for them honestly and respectfully from cradle to grave. Shame on anyone who chooses to work in a business related to animals and then cruelly harms the ones that make that business possible. Since the news came out about Bushway in October, it was the last straw for me, and I’ve gone vegan.
Kim Findlay Davis
Where’s the Veal?
I would greatly appreciate knowing where this meat is being sold in Vermont [“Emails Suggest Vermont Meat Inspector Knew About Animal Abuse,” March 24]. I understand that Bushway sells out of state, but your article seems to allude to possible Vermont sales. I am adamant about not ever purchasing meat that has come through Bushway of Grand Isle, but find myself in the dark as to which retailers to avoid. Please help me make responsible choices.
Editor’s note: The Vermont Agency of Agriculture considers customer lists to be “proprietary.” We suggest you ask retailers directly. When video first went public, for example, Healthy Living in South Burlington posted a sign assuring customers Bushway was not among its meat suppliers.
[Re: “Survey Says...” March 17]: What, no “best smile” or “best hair” categories? I guess the middle-school yearbook industry is safe.
Mad About Mad River Depiction
I have skied every area in Vermont, my first 30 years of skiing in Stowe. I was shocked when I picked up the paper and read this article on Mad River [“The 20/20 Challenge,” March 10]. It is an unfounded bit of misinformation. I am a “senior woman” who had both knees replaced nine years ago. I ski Mad River every week in season because I thoroughly enjoy the peaceful, cruising trails of “Birdland” off the double chair as well as some of the other non-notorious cruising trails they have to offer. Sure, they have difficult, mogul trails that have acquired fame. One does not need to go on these. I never ski on moguls with respect to my bionic knees.
While Ms. [Lauren] Ober did a disservice to Mad River with this article, her friend, Tom the ski bum, did her a disservice by not bringing her first up the double chair to easily cruise through Birdland, where there are not “bumps the size of Sherman tanks.” While uphill capacity is slow at MR, and, thank heaven, no boarders are allowed, I don’t have the worry of being hit by one of them, as many of my friends have been at other areas. The trails can thoroughly and peacefully be enjoyed, yes, on groomed cruisers. Weekday tickets are $39, by the way.
Although the new Annam Restaurant is currently the only Vietnamese restaurant in St. Albans, Bamboo House on Lake Street was the first, closing its doors in September 2008 after being open for less than a year [“Franklin County Pho,” March 10]. Bamboo House offered both Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine when it first opened, then moved to an entirely Vietnamese menu a couple of months later. Having lived in St. Albans for 20 years, it’s nice to see more ethnic restaurants opening in St. Albans.
Stephen S. Howe
Once a Flatlander…
[In her March 10 review of Leon Thompson’s Not Too Awful Bad: A Storyteller’s Guide to Vermont, Amy Lilly notes parenthetically]: “Thompson calls these folks ‘transplants’ — a far more suspect crowd than ‘flatlanders,’ defined as temporary visitors who are harmless except when they become death-dealing, distracted drivers in foliage season.”
To clarify: A ‘flatlander’ is an out-of-stater who comes from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the like, where there are more buildings and concrete than cows and hills. A flatlander may not be temporary in Vermont, but they will always be a flatlander. As for those folks who come just for the foliage — we call those “leaf-peepers.” Transplants? Now that’s something you’d hear a flatlander say.
Sold on Sissy’s
We’re housesitting for friends in Middletown Springs, and Sissy’s Kitchen is our new favorite place to eat [“Side Dishes,” October 14, 2009]. Everything is fresh and delicious. Sissy always greets you with a smile, and you feel like you’re home.
Glen Haven, Colo.
Coal vs. Nukes
Bill Dodge is absolutely correct that coal-powered generating plants have done much more damage to our environment than have nuclear facilities [“Letters to the Editor,” March 3]. They will continue to do so, as long as nothing goes wrong with the nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, eventually something will go wrong and when it does, it will go very wrong.
Jeffrey E. Salzberg
Jersey City, N.J.
Can We Trust the Trustees?
In “Cause for Paws,” [March 24], Ken Picard reported on UVM’s culture of secrecy surrounding animal research. One fact he omitted is that the legislative doorkeepers who might be able to protect the public’s interest in knowing how their tax dollars are spent are also members of the UVM board of trustees. Any attempt to change the law exempting UVM from the Public Records Act and Open Meeting Law must first pass through the Senate and House Government Operations committees, whose chairs are respectively Jeanette White (D-Putney) and Donna Sweaney (D-Windsor). Both are currently on the University of Vermont board. Which master do they serve: the people who elected them, or the university, which seems determined to keep its research hidden from the very citizens who fund it? Sounds like a conflict of interest to me.