In response to Mark Rifkin's "Turkey is Murder" (Dec. 5, The Mail), unlike Mr. Rifkin, I have discussed this issue with turkeys, and concluded that they indeed are aware of their options. One male turkey, who would only give his name as "Tom," informed me that he owed his very life to human choices to breed turkeys for the dinner table, and that the knowledge that he was going to be consumed by people, especially at Thanksgiving, gave meaning and purpose to his own and the lives of other turkeys that would not have otherwise. He also was aware that, were human farming of turkeys to cease, many of them would die more brutal deaths in the wild.
It is misleading to say, as Mr. Rifkin did, that "there is no biological need for meat"; there is, in a literal sense, no biological need for any specific food item. However, most foods do contain proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals which meet human biological needs, and meat, especially consumed in moderation, can certainly be included in healthy human diets, as it has since human beings first became a separate species.
Vegans are certainly welcome to consume whatever diets they wish. They should, however, spare us the sense of moral superiority to those of us who do choose to consume meat and fish.
double down on dollar house Program Thanks for Edward Ericson Jr.'s update on Baltimore's Vacants to Value Program ("Still Pretty Vacant," Mobtown Beat, Dec. 5).
Wouldn't it be wonderful if our city would bring back the highly successful and nationally famous Dollar House Program?
Much of the Inner Harbor, Otterbien, Ridgley's Delight, and other neighborhoods were restored with the help of this program.
The last time it was instituted briefly, urban homesteaders lined up and camped out overnight for the chance to renovate vacant houses in low-income communities.
The program, as I remember, required the buyer to bring the property up to code within a year and to occupy it for at least five. This discouraged "slumlord"-type speculators from abusing the program.
With the cost of housing still proportionately inflated from the actual cost of land, materials, and labor, urban homesteading is in the interest of an ever-increasing number of people.
I realize the city officials would rather work with developers than with individuals (less work for them, bigger campaign contributions), but the mantra that the "program didn't work" is simply not true. Demolishing blocks of historic houses has hidden costs to society, and the environment is not being factored into our city planners' equations.
Let's put Baltimore back on the preservation map and reinstitute our innovative and ecologically sensible Dollar House Program!
Daniel Van Allen
Larnell is Light As we Baltimoreans fa-la-la and party, and as our city, our nation, and the world barrel recklessly towards the new year, I thank the Baltimore City Paper for year-round excellence.
In particular, I thank you for including in your columns the letters of Larnell Custis Butler.
I know that Ms. Butler is an Afro-centric feminist. She is a magnificent, self-ascribed "troublemaker".
I am a Jewish feminist, living with life-long mental illness.
For any newspaper to consistently give space so that Larnell's voice, her pain, and her profound vision of injustice are heard and acknowledged, is to give power to us all.
Thanks, Ms. Butler. Thanks, City Paper.
Leslie Robin Kassal