Home Commentary Opinion LETTERS: 4.2.15

LETTERS: 4.2.15


Film Festival a Wonderful Experience


Like the shepherds in “Winter Nomads,” Rachelle Murphy and Eric Reynolds start each year with a large herd of films (this is the 18th year of the Green Mountain Film Festival and there were 2,400 films from 92 countries) and winnow them down to 60 films and four presentations of shorts.  During the 10 days of the festival, I heard countless comments of gratitude, “How would I get through mud season without the festival?!”  It takes a village.  A large group of volunteers screen the entries to select the festival films, man the ticket office and usher at the venues.  The festival is supported by major donors from the community and we are truly grateful.  Everyone comes out of the woodwork to view “their” films.  It is like old home week, as film goers see friends they have not seen all winter.  Together viewers come together and experience breathtaking vistas, great documentaries and films which transport us through story to inner places not found on a map.  And much discussion ensues. Our inner terroir is improved from the debate and inspiration the films stimulate. Thank you to each and every one of you who support the GMFF and bringing this wonderful experience to our community!

Elizabeth M. Parker, Montpelier


April Fools’ Day No Fun For Cramped Chickens and Trapped Piglets


With April Fools’ Day recently past, it appears that the meat, egg, and dairy industries have been playing us for fools all year-round. Their more remarkable hoaxes include “California’s happy cows,” “Free-range chickens,” “Humane slaughter.” All lies.

Less fun is the stuff they never talk about. Like the hundreds of millions of chickens crammed seven to a cage designed for one, unable to move or spread their wings. Or their hundreds of millions of male counterparts ground up live at birth and fed to other chickens, or just dumped into plastic garbage bags to suffocate slowly. Or the miserable breeding sows producing millions of piglet per year while trapped in tiny steel cages.

All in the spirit of year-round April Fools’ Day, the meat industry has even developed a whole dictionary of fun terms to fool unwary consumers. Those filthy cesspools of animal waste that poison downwind neighbors with putrid odors? They call them “lagoons.” And to make sure that kids don’t confuse the pig flesh on their plate with “Babe” or “Wilbur,” they call it “pork.”

Ah, those meat industry folks are such kidders. But they won’t be fooling American consumers much longer. Anyway, happy April Fools’ Day, everyone!

Maxwell Branset, Montpelier


Hey, What About Us?


In his “Granite City Groove” column of March 19, Barre Partnership executive director Joshua Jerome announces: “Downtown Barre Heating Up with Business and Cultural Activity.”  Astonishingly, he never mentions the two principal drivers of local warming, Studio Place Arts and the Barre Opera House,  Yet Barre was recently ranked no. 10 among 20 “Hotbeds of America’s Arts and Culture” by the National Center for Arts Research, thanks largely to these two bookends of Barre’s downtown district.  Since its reopening in 1982, BOH has hosted not only community theaters and local performers but some of the world’s finest musicians in a variety of genres.  SPA, a community center for the visual arts, opened 15 years ago and has offered gallery shows, artists’ studio space and public classes without interruption.  By contrast, the Vermont Granite Museum, extolled by Jerome but located far from downtown, is seldom open to the public and has been very much a “work in progress” for more than a decade.  Perhaps next time around the Barre Partnership will acknowledge SPA and BOH, the real sparkplugs of downtown revitalization.

R.D. Eno


Paid Time Off Strengthens Families


I am writing to express my support for the healthy workplaces bill,  H.187, which is currently being debated in Montpelier. The bill establishes a minimum standard of earned leave which an employee can use to manage their health and the health of their families. Currently, almost 60,000 Vermonters don’t have access to any paid time off whatsoever.

A minimum standard of earned time off will strengthen families. Every family wants what’s best for their children, but without access to earned time off, parents are often forced to choose between their family’s financial stability and their children’s health. Too many have no choice but to send a child to school sick or skip medical care. This proposal would make it easier for workers to be good employees and good parents — and will let children lead healthier lives, be more successful in school and be better prepared for the future. Seniors will also benefit when adult children can afford to take them to the doctor or care for them during an illness.

Rene LaPlante, Cavendish


Sugary Drinks Stink


As a former teacher, I witnessed first-hand the effects sugary drinks have on children. Students purchased 20-ounce bottles of soda during their lunch period and I always cringed at teaching the classes after lunch.  Invariably, these classes contained more disruptions and behavioral problems.

Children have access to alarming amounts of sugar these days.  Sugar sweetened beverages are the single largest category of caloric intake in children, surpassing milk in the late 1990s.

After observing how poor nutrition in general -— and sugar consumption in particular — was affecting students’ health and behavior, I went to law school and commenced earning an advanced degree in food and agriculture law in order to effect more positive change. With the numbers of child attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses, diabetes, and obesity rates soaring, imminent action is needed to avert an already booming health crisis. 

With a two-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks, the potential annual tax revenue for Vermont in 2014 would have been $34.856 million. This money could be reinvested in our children, perhaps by funding after-school sports and healthy snack programs, or by teaching whole foods cooking classes to children and their parents. Studies suggest that a 10 percent price increase for drinks through taxation would decrease consumption by about 8 to 10 percent. This is an important first step in confronting our health challenges and the time to act is now. 

Carrie A. Scrufari, Esq., LLM Fellow, Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, Vermont Law School