Lyra said you might be interested in this letter to the editor I
sent to our local Davis paper and the Sacramento Bee. I don't know
if it will get but I am fairly discouraged by the covereage so far.
It has been one-sided in my view. I believe the larger issues need
to be described for consumers as well. Here it is:
May 26, 1994
Letter to the Editor
As a nutritionist and a community member concerned about our food
system, I am disturbed that amidst the accolades about the FLAVR
SAVR tomato, basic questions about the sustainability of our food
and agricultural system have not been addressed in this newspaper's
coverage of the product's unveiling.
Certainly, it is important to describe new developments by local
businesses, and I support important biotechnological research.
But, that is not the point here. It is only fair to include
balanced information about this product, the way it is produced and
its implications for the food system so the public has a chance to
make informed decisions about it and similar products to come.
Only a few miles away from Calgene (the maker of the FLAVR SAVR),
is UC Davis, where some of the most innovative research and
education on sustainable farming and food systems is underway. Any
reporting on this new agricultural product should certainly also
consider basic questions about how its production affects the
sustainability of the food system. What are the economic, social
and environmental impacts of such a product in the marketplace?
For example, how does growing huge acreages of FLAVR SAVR tomatoes
in only a few locations (California, Florida and Mexico now) and
shipping the product all over the country, affect the environment?
How does encouraging consumers to buy this product at the start of
local tomato season affect local growers and the local farming
economy? What does eating tomatoes year-around teach consumers
about where their food comes from, who grows it and how it is
As a nutritionist, I would like consumers to become more aware of
their local food system, the variety of foods it produces and how
to connect more directly with growers. Tomatoes in January and
February are unnecessary nutritionally when we can get spinach,
kale, bok choy, mustard greens, red and green Swiss chard. These
delicious greens provide at least as much vitamin C as tomatoes and
they are available locally at farmers markets at reasonable prices.
The FLAVR SAVR currently costs $1.99 a pound. Soon, locally grown,
vine-ripened tomatoes will cost only about half that price.
Ultimately, the consumer will and should decide. However, to make
informed choices about foods, particularly if we want to support a
sustainable food system, consumers need to know about the
2400 Rivendell Lane
Davis, CA 95616
(916) 753-3063 (h)
(916) 752-8408 (w)