I was disturbed by a couple of things published in your “Asheville’s Food Pioneers” coverage in the Oct. 22 issue of Xpress. You give very nice publicity to Blue Ridge Food Ventures (a local sacred cow) in “From Palates to Pallets,” with special attention given to UliMana, the largest Food Ventures client.
All well and good — how swell it is to push local small businesses — but then, on page 38, you feature UliMana staff happily making their raw truffles with bare hands, which anyone with any background in the food industry knows is a serious breach of health codes not only here, but anywhere in the country. … Are the staff of UliMana really completely ignorant of food-handling provisions of the local health code? Is Chris Reedy, the Blue Ridge Food Ventures executive director (shown on page 37 with UliMana staff) ignorant of these codes?
On page 44, the article “The local grocer” gives a deserving plug to John Swann of Katuah Market. I do take issue with something Mr. Swann is quoted as saying: “Having relationships with farmers is more important than the word ‘organic.’ Places like Hickory Nut Gap Farm, they’re not all-organic, they’re not all non-GMO, but they are working hard to make that happen, and we want to support that.”
Really? “Working toward” being organic and not utilizing GMOs, but not actually achieving those goals, is rather like saying Monsanto really wants to produce healthy, environmentally safe products. I’m absolutely certain you could find any number of Monsanto execs who would, in fact, say exactly that. But this desire alone is not necessarily enough, is it?
Surely, Mr. Swann, you have heard the old saying about the path to Hell being paved with good intentions? It applies here. In order to be the grocer that most of you customers probably think you to be, then you must seek out producers of local, organic, and non-GMO produce and meat. Organic IS important, non-GMO IS important. To state that these crucial considerations are not as important as a vendor relationship is to minimize very serious ecological and social concerns that affect the health and viability of our planet.