Let me put this as delicately as I can: Stephanie Mencimer, in her cover story on Fresh Fields (“You Aren’t What You Eat,” 1/21), is really full of hooey.
Rather than cite all of the inanities and misstatements, I’ll let this doozy stand as an excellent example: “If you have any doubt that Fresh Fields appeals to people’s desire for prestige, ask yourself why men—the world’s pre-eminent status-seekers—make up a higher percentage of customers at Fresh Fields than at other grocery stores, according to Kenney.” Now, isn’t that an impressive combination of sexist stereotyping and pawning off opinion as evidence? As a man who shops regularly at Fresh Fields, I can assure Mencimer that prestige is the last reason for my going there. In fact, I don’t know of any other man (or woman) who shops there for that reason—although I’m sure we’re all so blinded by our own narcissism that we think the real reasons have something to do with the wonderfully interesting and wholesome food we find there.
What astonishes me most is Mencimer’s shameless use of the Hudson Institute as her main source of supporting opinion. This is the same contrarian gang that insists, following the quasi-religious teachings of their guru Herman Kahn, that just about any concern for the health of the environment or fear of toxins is unjustified.
I must admit that I agree with Mencimer on one point—that pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables is probably not as dangerous as some people believe. But the important point that Mencimer either misses or intentionally ignores is that buying organic produce isn’t as much about our own day-to-day health as it is about the long-term health of the environment, and thereby our long-term prosperity. Buying organic whenever possible is the best way we have of supporting the growth of sustainable agriculture—something that, sooner or later, we’re going to have to achieve. Why not start with shopping at Fresh Fields?