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Letters to the Editor 

Not So NIMBY

I want to correct a misimpression left by Kevin J. Kelley’s otherwise excellent and balanced article on S.D. Ireland’s proposal to redevelop its longtime industrial site on Grove Street [“A New Apartment Complex Could Ease Burlington’s Housing Crunch,” November 14]. While I certainly have numerous concerns about the impact of 200 to 300 new units on our neighborhood — as any direct abutter would — it is inaccurate to characterize them as “strong opposition.” I have not yet seen details of the proposal, other than the large number of units being talked about, so my support or opposition would be premature. Certainly any reasonable person would conclude that this major redevelopment of a 30-acre site in a small, somewhat beleaguered neighborhood will have a substantial impact, one that is potentially negative unless done right. The concerns I voiced grow out of my knowledge of the property and neighborhood after living next door for 30 years. I don’t think they amount to opposition.

As Kevin noted, I have been a strong supporter of affordable housing for many years, which does not mean I am a supporter of all housing at whatever cost. Thanks to inclusionary zoning, which I helped pass many years ago as a city councilor, at least a reasonable percentage of any new units will be affordable. I look forward to my concerns being addressed through the city’s development review process and to redevelopment of the site in a way that is beneficial to the neighborhood and to all of Burlington.

Erhard Mahnke

Burlington

The Price Isn’t Right

Thank you for featuring Guild & Company in last week’s Seven Days [“High Steaks,” November 21]. Like any new restaurant, we have a few kinks to work out, but we’re fully committed to delivering the best possible guest experience. Along those lines, writer Alice Levitt poses an interesting question in her review: What is a quality local food experience worth?

The Vermont dining scene is a heady space right now. Many of us in the business are connected by a common thread: an unwavering support for the “local food economy.” Together we make a conscious decision to pay fair prices for quality local food when and where we can. In doing so, we play an important role in preserving the rich agricultural history that makes Vermont so special. Sure, there are cheaper ways for restaurants to purchase food, but that’s not the vision that many of us have for the Vermont restaurant community.

Speaking for the Farmhouse Group, we accept that this commitment to local sourcing can translate to higher than average menu prices at our restaurants. So here’s the discussion from our perspective: How do we work together with the various stakeholders — farmers, restaurateurs, guests, retailers, the media — to communicate just how important the local food economy is? How do we get people to see beyond a simple restaurant menu price and understand what it takes to bring good, honest, local food to the table?

Perhaps Seven Days can host the conversation?

We would also like to take this opportunity to correct an error. Levitt writes: “At the infamously pricy, No. 1-rated Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn, steak for two is $75.90. At Guild, a ribeye à deux is $80.” A pricing comparison is made between a locally minded Vermont restaurant and a NYC institution.

First things first: We absolutely stand behind our pricing at Guild & Company. We pay top price for our premium local beef, and the quality shows.

A simple phone call confirmed Luger’s actually charges $95 for their signature steak for two, and it’s for the steak only. At Guild & Company, our price includes salad and side dishes for two. This makes Guild & Company’s price significantly less than Peter Luger’s.

Jed Davis

Essex

Kristina Bond

Shelburne

Davis is the managing partner for the Farmhouse Group, which owns Guild & Company, the Farmhouse Tap & Grill and El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina. Bond is the marketing director.

Editor’s note: Reporter Alice Levitt got her price from an outdated website. The price for a signature steak for two at Luger’s is in fact $95.90.

Take Back On-Farm Slaughter

Thank you for Kathryn Flagg’s balanced and well-reported article on the subject of on-farm slaughter [“A Kinder Kill,” November 21]. As Flagg reports, commerce in on-farm slaughtered meat has deep roots in Vermont’s food traditions, and the practice is widespread. It has also proven to be perfectly safe: Despite Art Meade’s comments, the state reports exactly zero cases of food-borne illness associated with on-farm slaughter since record keeping began. Indeed, every single case of food-borne illness associated with meat in Vermont — and there have been dozens — can be traced to inspected facilities. Is it any wonder Vermonters increasingly choose to break the law in order to source meat and other products that are truly safe and nourishing? To riff on a well-known phrase: When real food is outlawed, only outlaws will eat real food.

Here is the cold, hard truth: Vermonters can legally purchase hand guns, cigarettes and whiskey, but we cannot legally purchase a side of beef that was humanely slaughtered on a neighbor’s farm or, for that matter, myriad other food products.

If our Agency of Agriculture truly cares about a safe, equitable and just food system — one that doesn’t merely benefit the purveyors of high-end “artisanal” products primarily sold to wealthy consumers beyond state lines — it will stand up to nonsensical federal regulations that erect barriers between working-class Vermonters and legal, affordable access to the products of their choosing. Food is the most intimate form of commerce we engage in, and we must assert our rights to unfettered access.

Ben Hewitt

Cabot

Still Insensitive

I wrote a letter very similar to this two or three years ago, which you printed and titled “Be More Sensitive” [Feedback, December 2, 2009]. Did no one actually read it? The concept of “person-first” language is so simple: Put the person first, not the disability. Ben Chater is a Chittenden County prosecutor with a disability [“Man of Conviction,” November 7]. I love your newspaper, and I loved the article, but I can’t help pointing this out: Person-first language is just good manners. Shouldn’t we be more respectful toward any person who has achieved as much as he has in his 29 years?

Stephanie Shohet

Colchester

Editor’s note: The memory of that letter did in fact inspire a spirited discussion about whether the story’s subhead should describe Chater as a “disabled prosecutor” or a “prosecutor with disabilities.” We went with the former because it’s shorter — headline writing demands brevity — and also because that’s how Chater describes himself.

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