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If Stephanie Mencimer’s article about Fresh Fields (“You Aren’t What You Eat,” 1/21) had been more original and better researched, and had fewer uncorroborated generalities regarding the clientele of Fresh Fields, I would have called it a mean-spirited hatchet job by a lazy hack.

That’s not to say she wasn’t on the right track.

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I’ve shopped at Fresh Fields ever since the first store opened up in Rockville. There was a competitor that opened up across the street from the original location, a virtual clone, and ever since Fresh Fields drove it out of business in 1994, I’ve watched the prices at Fresh Fields steadily climb into the stratosphere. I go there because it has decent prices on vitamins that seem to work for me. I stopped buying the stuff at the deli counter when it started costing more than five bucks for a few ounces of meat and veggies wrapped in a tortilla. Lately when I’ve popped in for vitamins, I end up looking at the prices on the other stuff, shaking my head with disgust, and putting it back down on the counter. I suppose I don’t fit the mold of someone who goes in for “conspicuous consumption.”

I remember once when I was in Fresh Fields, a group of people dressed in very conservative business attire were touring the store with one of the managers, taking notes and looking extremely serious. I asked one of the checkout people who they were, and she told me they were the board of directors of the company. I shook my head. Until I moved too far away to make it practical, I did most of my health-food shopping at Beautiful Day Trading Co. in College Park, one of the original health-food cooperatives left over from the ’60s. As I’ve learned, one should never trust a health-food store that’s not run by a freak in a tie-dyed T-shirt.

(By the way, the most toxic/carcinogenic food substance we commonly ingest is not salt but peanut butter. It’s not the peanut butter that is the problem—it’s the aflatoxin created by a mold that grows on the peanuts. It’s been estimated that eating a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich carries on average the equivalent cancer risk of smoking one cigarette. Ironically, some studies have shown that organic peanut butter has up to 10 times more aflatoxin than the regular commercial brands, because of how it’s processed.)

Silver Spring, Md