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“You Aren’t What You Eat” by Stephanie Mencimer (1/21) raises a jumble of interesting issues about the relative merits of Fresh Fields food and the status-seeking of its customers. There are three things the author failed to note in her rush to skewer the chain:

* The significant dangers to wildlife and water quality from conventional agriculture. Relying on a former USDA official as the “expert” to pooh-pooh the merits of organic produce is almost as unfair as using a Monsanto chemist.

* The real crime of the Whole Food chain was to purchase its only major competitor in the area, the original Fresh Fields chain. The lack of competition surely has driven up store prices as much as status-seeking customers. The area has several good natural-food co-ops, but many folks live too far away or have too many diverse food needs (like those created by kids) to use them.

* Nearly all of us seek status in some fashion. For some it’s buying a Lincoln Navigator or giant-screen TV; for others it’s eating organic radicchio or beet chips; for a select few, it’s writing venomous articles in free weeklies trashing the aspirations of one’s peers.

What’s better? I don’t know about you, but I’m sticking with my mesclun for now as the least offensive option.