Letters to the Editor

Food insecurity is a local reality

Regarding "Food Desert?" (May 17), if one considers overall factors and demographics, it's apparent food insecurity is a growing reality. The Ashland Food Bank continues to report record demand; proof enough.

Access and affordability define food deserts. Other factors come into play: awareness, available time, abilities and attitudes.

Few folks seem aware that the Growers Market and the Siskiyou Sustainable Co-op accept Oregon Trail/SNAP, and that prices there are often better than stores for equivalent items. Many neighbors, such as single parents, lack time to get to the growers market or walk a mile to the store.

Those with limited physical mobility face more challenges.

Basic cooking skills have waned. My parents raised our produce, eggs and meat organically, and cooked from scratch so I learned everyday cooking and highly value organic, whole foods. I eat affordably while buying only organic items at the Co-op and Growers Market because I purchase only bulk foods and unpackaged produce. Others fill their carts with the pricey, processed, packaged foods that have become societal staples.

The article overwhelmingly focused on comments from Co-op shoppers, who are obviously able to get there and find it affordable. What about those at other stores, food banks and community meals?

Mayor Stromberg says he's "wary" of such studies yet admittedly ponders, "Do we know who within our community is having difficulty getting "… food?" It sounds like we don't.

It's our responsibility to reach out more broadly to find out and craft equitable, local solutions. A follow-up article to that end would be a great start, along with pieces comparing prices across local stores and growers markets, highlighting the full range of places accepting Oregon Trail/SNAP, and quick and easy ways to prepare bulk foods and fresh produce.

Melissa Schweisguth


Insecticide sales threaten wildlife

When we wonder where our bees have disappeared to, and notice the scarcity of our birds, we just have to read the ads (in the paper Friday) in which there were six ads for insecticide sold at the Grange. Walk down the aisle at Home Depot, Lowe's or any nursery in the Northwest and one gasps for air that is filled with the aroma of insecticides.

I came here 25 years ago believing Oregon would be so strict in caring for its wildlife and the things it grew. I grew up on 25 acres. Fruit trees, veggies, nut trees — we grew everything, never used poison, and do this also as an adult. Grew beautiful flowers and food.

Then I found I could not grow zinnias here. Yet I saw gorgeous zinnias in yards. Then discovered all lovely zinnias were fed insecticide so they were not eaten to the ground by earwigs.

And our sea life and whales die in huge groups because of lack of oxygen destroyed by the pollution in Oregon waters. Our Congress recently denied some kind of congressional awards to Rachel Carson, who 60 years ago wrote a book regarding poison on apples, etc., and appeared before Congress asking for its help — that is a laugh!

My children, now ages 56 to 70 years, never ate an apple until they were grown that was not scrubbed and peeled because of the poison. We lived in Southern California. Yet I did have an apple tree here and an older man told me what to do naturally, and we had great apples.

California has come a long way. Why have we not done so? We murder people who perform abortions (?), states are passing laws to punish all persons who perform abortions, we complain about our obese children, we fight even medical marijuana, yet we sell and can buy insecticides that kill eventually — and destroy! We even spray in our parks and our school yards and wonder why they do not have volunteers to help them with the care.

Penny Beck


Cougar doing what nature intended

Thank you for the article about the cougar in Lithia Park. As a walker on that path, I appreciate the tips of what to do if I should see the cougar.

I want to mention the number of deer I have seen in the past few days in downtown Ashland that I noticed looked less than healthy. Their coats weren't smooth and they seemed thin to me.

I am so appreciative that we have predator animals that help with the overpopulation of other animals. I hope we can all be calm, stay safe, and be respectful of this natural balance in nature.

I appreciate this cougar. It seems he/she has plenty to eat in the Ashland area.

Linda Merryman


Thanks to voters for fire station

Ashland Fire & Rescue wants to thank the citizens of Ashland for supporting the rebuilding of Fire Station No. 2 through the passage of bond 15-109.

The location of this fire station is important for maintaining desired response times for medical, fire and other emergencies. The building infrastructure had degraded to the point that replacement was necessary. This bond allows us to capture attractive rates for construction and finance costs.

I also want to thank the members of the Public Safety Bond Committee. Their efforts allowed us to create a project that meets the department needs in an economical fashion. Again, thank you to Ashland, we serve you with pride.

John Karns

Ashland fire chief

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