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Letters to the Editor 

Published August 5, 2009 at 7:01 a.m.


Many thanks to the Alchemist Pub & Brewery for being aware, creative and supportive to the celiac community [“Side Dishes: Suds a Celiac Can Love,” July 29].

Rustie MacDonald


MacDonald is a life coach for celiacs and a former Vermonter. The website for her business is celiacroads.com.


[Regarding “Outdoor Wood Boilers: Appropriate Technology or Deadly Device?” July 22]: We have one here in town, and it smokes all day — sometimes you can’t see the house next door. Why can’t he fix this the right way?

James R. Short



Ed Flanagan’s alleged behavior would not be untypical of someone who is recovering from severe brain trauma [“Fair Game,” July 29]. He may not have had a clear idea of what he was doing; he may not be able to interpret the alleged actions as having any specific goal, or necessarily being inappropriate. This might be a medical condition for which Ed cannot possibly be blamed: legally, morally or intellectually. It is important, however, that he undergo further evaluation and diagnosis, that he keep track of the progress of his disability with his doctors and determine what kind of supervision in public situations might be appropriate.

This incident may well serve an advance warning to the community: There are hundreds of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have suffered severe trauma to their brains and should be offered every opportunity to lead as normal lives as possible. This will only be possible if people are informed of the difficulties and are provided useful guidelines on how to respond to untoward incidents that may occur during prolonged periods of readjustment.

John Shaplin



Jonathan Miller’s July 8 “‘Green’ Gripes” letter raises valid concerns about lack of ventilation and use of foam for insulation. Most any modern, well-built dwelling needs a ventilation system — a heat-recovery ventilator seems like a must in this climate. I would like to know his thoughts regarding the use of fans, which do seem to affect air quality.

Regarding his concerns about structural insulated panels (SIPs), I’ll say that plastics have become a huge environmental concern, especially for marine life. For example, the white beads released during construction, from expanded polystyrene foam in these panels, are mistaken for fish eggs by sea turtles, which eat them, resulting in their being unable to submerge.

Also, the heat tools, used in working with the SIPs give off very toxic fumes. Furthermore, carpenter ants, looking for warm winter habitation, excavate some impressive ant-condominiums in foam, gradually destroying the r-value with resultant release of plastic residue into the environment. Permanent exclusion seems unlikely.

Another increasingly common practice, shown in the Seven Days June 24 green issue, is the use of metal for roofs. Dairy barn “stray voltage” studies have shown that metal in buildings concentrates electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Roof-mounted photovoltaic panels also impact the EMFs in a dwelling. In conjunction with metal roofing, they have potentially huge impacts on health. Some abatement can be accomplished, however.

Aren’t we beating a dead horse in continuing our attempts to apply high-tech, synthetic Band-Aids to wood-based construction, with its myriad of challenges? Much of the world’s population, with their often-ancient masonry structures, look askance at our short-term thinking. It is this thinking that has prompted more and more municipalities to mandate masonry in structures.

Why not give in to the ancient wisdom of the old world? And in so doing, make a concession to energy efficiency by adopting “insulating concrete.” Being more lightweight than normal concrete, cement-based foam is extremely durable and can solve all the concerns I see with conventional U.S. construction. It is almost certainly the wave of the future.

Joe Gleason



Thanks to Ken Picard of Seven Days for raising awareness about the negative health impacts of dirty, old outdoor wood boilers (OWBs). Although the American Lung Association applauds the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) for requiring manufacturers to design cleaner-burning units, we are frustrated that the current OWB regulations grandfathered several thousand inefficient old boilers that still operate all over Vermont. Many of these boilers are used year round to heat water, thus not limiting the health concern to a seasonal problem. In addition to the smoke created by the poor combustion design of these units, some owners choose to burn garbage and tires in their boilers, creating even more dangerous pollution problems.

According to the ANR website, the agency is dedicated to protecting and improving the health of Vermont’s people. Dick Valentinetti, director of the Air Pollution Control Division, and his staff, are doing the best they can given current regulation. But it is not enough. And it’s too late for Donna Paris, the Vermonter whose death may have been due to OWB smoke. Vermont, often considered the healthiest and greenest state in the U.S., needs to do much more to protect its citizens from air pollution of all forms. At the very least, there should be an OWB burn ban from April to November. At the most, the legacy boilers should be required to be replaced with cleaner systems.

Rebecca L. Ryan


Ryan is the director of health promotion and public policy at the American Lung Association.


Readers react to a Whole Foods Grocery Store in South Burlington.

We have terrific, local, natural-foods markets and no need for a Whole Foods [“Big Fish,” July 21]. The WFs I’ve visited, including in Honolulu, were nothing to write about. However, a Trader Joe’s in the neighborhood would be an addition to the shopping choices!

Carolyn Gregson


I think having Whole Foods is great! We need more natural-foods stores that can help bring down cost. Whole Foods has more buying power, plus they do buy local, so it is one more place our local farmers can sell. I, for one, can hardly wait.

Kathi Fischer


This is just one more example of how a big corporate chain store is attempting to bulldoze its way into a quaint Vermont community that already has enough organic food stores to make everyone happy.

A neighborhood takes on a particular flavor and a unique atmosphere by the type of retail outlets, food stores, condominiums, homes and landscaping that are intrinsically part of that community, adding to the quality of life. I love going into Healthy Living and City Market because they are very different from the chain stores, creating an atmosphere all their own. This definitely adds to my quality of life.

With Whole Foods moving in, this is just another attempt by a large chain to drive out all the local stores that give our neighborhood charm and distinction.

I particularly hate the idea of a supermarket being 45,000 square feet. Is Whole Foods going to supply us with special cars, so people can shop, and not spend half a day getting from one aisle to another? Why do we need all this? I, for one, deplore this horrible idea, and I will do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Alice Barbera


Thanks to Suzanne Podhaizer for visiting the Whole Foods Market in Hadley, Mass., to give us an on-the-scene perspective. One item puzzled me: the comment by the store employee that it is against Whole Foods policy for a customer to take notes (of product information and pricing). In my experience, a store’s policies usually govern the behavior of its employees — their attire or demeanor — or return conditions, or special ordering or the like. In some exceptional cases, restaurants may request that “ties and jackets” be worn, or cite presumed health policy regulations about required shoes.

I’m curious about what other unpublished “policies” Whole Foods may have for customers who shop on its premises. And how did this employee intend to enforce this arbitrary policy? Was she going to use physical force? Contact in-store security? Call the police to arrest Ms. P? Does Whole Foods often require police intervention to maintain its high standard of order and discipline at its stores? We’d all love to know…

Good thing Suzanne switched to her mobile phone as her note-taking device. I wonder if the next Whole Foods board meeting will prohibit that activity as well.

Steve Levy


I’m a customer of Healthy Living and on occasion City Market (sadly, the similar type of market at Taft Corners, as pleasant as it is, drops completely out of my consciousness due to their lack of effective marketing). I shop these stores primarily for their bulk foods, spices and other items unobtainable elsewhere, and purchase the majority of other common commodity-type items at local Hannaford and Shaw’s due to the significant price difference for the same items. An added Whole Foods market in the area will only affect my buying habits if they have both price competitiveness for those common items and also the products I currently buy at Healthy Living and City Market. Otherwise, I will continue my current buying practice: wishing I could afford to only shop at Healthy Living and grudgingly shopping at Hannaford and Shaw’s for value and convenience.

Rick Edmonds


As a new resident of Chittenden County, I’m very glad for the announcement of Whole Foods coming to South Burlington. I lived right down the street from Whole Foods when I lived in Baton Rouge. The defining moment for me and Whole Foods was when they were open when many stores in BR were closed and the organization distributed free water to residents of Baton Rouge in the aftermath of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike last year. If I am still here when WF comes to the Greater Burlington area, I will be shopping there in addition to shopping at the other stores in the area. Healthy Living is ridiculously overpriced … and City Market is out of the way for me. Whole Foods will bring some much-needed competition to the area.

In addition, are people forgetting how many jobs will come of this? How is that a negative? And I can’t help but mention how there is this constant gripe about buying local or whatever, but Costco in Colchester and that huge big-box-store mall over at Taft Corners in Williston are always jumping with activity. Methinks Vermonters like chains just as much as anyone else in our country.

Jemima Drake


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