Archive for February, 2010

Olympic Hypocrisy Goes Way Back

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

By Michael Kaufman

So the snowboarding kid from New Hampshire gets sent home after sexually suggestive photographs appear on the Internet, while skier Julia Mancuso hawks her “Kiss My Tiara” lingerie line on her official Web site and Sports Illustrated posts 45 pictures of skier Lindsey Vonn posing in Vancouver in an array of skimpy bikinis. Granted, the two sexy skiers are alone in their respective photos and not involved in any simulated Lewinsky-like activity, but there is still something wrong with this picture…or rather, these pictures.

I am not defending Scotty Lago’s behavior here. But, as The New York Times reported, he seemed genuinely remorseful. “I’m sorry for the pictures,” he said. “I’m sorry to the American public that I offended. I was out celebrating. It happened so quick.” Unlike Mancuso and Vonn, he received no money for his appearance in the racy photos (nor did the young woman with him).

This is but one of the many contradictions that come to mind as the Winter Games continue this week. There is no denying the grace, skill, and courage of most of those world-class athletes assembled in Vancouver. It is a pleasure to watch them compete at this level in pursuit of excellence in their respective events. (And just as an aside, I am pleased to report that after watching many Olympic Games in my lifetime, I think I finally understand curling.)

But as I watched the men’s hockey game the other night between the United States and Canada I thought about another great U.S. Olympic athlete…not a hockey player, not even a winter Olympian. I thought about Jim Thorpe. That is because every man on the ice for both teams was a professional player from the National Hockey League. Even the referees were NHL professionals. The Olympics have been allowing professional athletes to compete for a while now, so it was no surprise. It all dates back to the late Cold War years and the International Olympic Committee’s response to complaints that the best athletes from the “Communist bloc” had an unfair advantage because they could compete as amateurs. Still, whenever I see professional athletes in the Olympics I think of Thorpe.

Jim Thorpe competed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, where he won the gold medal in the first modern Olympic decathlon with a score of 8,413 points (a record that would stand for nearly two decades). He also won gold in the pentathlon. He received a special prize for his decathlon performance from King Gustav V of Sweden, who reportedly told him, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe is said to have replied, “Thanks, King.”

He came home to a ticker-tape parade on Broadway but his celebration was short-lived. In 1913 several newspapers reported the damaging news that he had played professional baseball in 1909 and 1910 and was thus ineligible to compete as an amateur athlete. He played for Rocky Mount in the Eastern Carolina League, where he was paid as little as $2 per game as a semi-pro. In a letter to Edward Sullivan, secretary of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Thorpe said he was unaware that playing semi-pro baseball would affect his amateur eligibility. “I hope I will be partially excused because I was just an Indian schoolboy and did not know about such things,” he wrote. “In fact, I did not know that I was doing wrong because I knew I was doing what several other college men had done, except they did not use their own names.”

Unmoved, the AAU retroactively withdrew his amateur status and requested that the IOC do likewise. Later that year the IOC voted unanimously to strip Thorpe of all his Olympic titles, medals, and awards, and declared him a (gasp) professional.

“Ignorance is no excuse,” said Avery Brundage, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and later the IOC. Ironically, Brundage was Thorpe’s Olympic teammate in 1912. But he went on to become a Nazi sympathizer who as late as 1971 claimed that the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin (often called the “Hitler Olympics”) were “the finest in modern history… I will accept no dispute over that fact.” 

It was not until 1983, 30 years after the death of Jim Thorpe and eight years after the death of Avery Brundage, that the IOC returned Thorpe’s Olympic medals to his name.

Perhaps next time you see professional athletes competing in the Olympics, you too will think of Jim Thorpe.

Michael can be reached at

A Death by Anthrax

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

Six days after she inhaled the spores, Kathy T. Nguyen was dead, the only New Yorker to die in the anthrax attacks that terrorized the nation in the weeks after 9/11. From the time she took sick on Oct. 25, 2001 until her death six days later, the press usually referred to her as little more than a lonely woman living in a rented apartment in the Bronx.
Last week, the FBI announced the conclusion of its nearly decade-long investigation into the anthrax terror with a finding that an Army biologist, who committed suicide in 2008, mailed the spores that infected 22 people and killed five. And even last week, Nguyen was mentioned in news accounts as “a hospital employee.”

In 2001 I was a reporter at The Record in Hackensack. In the fearful days after the 9/11 attacks, when anthrax spores were mailed to senators and news organizations, my editor and I agreed that no one should go to her grave with just a job title as her obituary. This is what I learned about Kathy Nguyen.

Who was she? Nguyen was one of the few Asians living in Crotona Park East, a mostly Puerto Rican neighborhood. One of her neighbors, Ana Rodriguez, recalled that she and Nguyen cooked for each other in their own ethnic styles. “She used to make me Vietnamese wonton soup and I used to cook Puerto Rican for her,” Rodriguez said. “She was a beautiful woman. She didn’t socialize or go out a lot.”

Others said she was an easy touch for neighbors in need of a few dollars and that she most likely died with some money owed her.

Gina Ramjassingh and Kathy Nguyen had become best friends when they worked at a downtown clothing factory. Nguyen was in charge of distributing patterns and fabrics to Ramjassingh and the other seamstresses. The two friends used to go out to the movies on Friday nights, and for a while, Ramjassingh lived in Nguyen’s building on Freeman Street until she got married and moved to Queens.

Kathy Thi Nguyen was born in Saigon in 1940 and raised by an uncle after her parents died, Ramjassingh said. She married a man who was later killed in the war; Ramjassingh didn’t know on which side he fought. Nguyen told her friend she had owned a tavern in Saigon and that she got on well with the Americans.

Nguyen and her husband had a son. In one of the mysteries of her life, Nguyen turned her son over to a cousin – the son of the uncle who had raised her – left Vietnam, and traveled to the United States. Her priest and most of her friends said this was around 1979. She sent money to her cousin for the care of her son. Later she got word that her son had died, Ramjassingh said.

After she became a U.S. citizen Nguyen married a man in California. Ramjassingh said Nguyen told her this was a marriage of convenience to a Chinese man who wanted quick citizenship. After he got his papers, he disappeared.

Eventually, around 1991, Kathy Nguyen left the clothing factory and got a job as a stockroom clerk at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. In the next 10 years of her life, she established an exemplary attendance record at the hospital, and it was this devotion to her employers that might have contributed to her death.

On a Thursday in late October, just 44 days after Sept. 11, Nguyen experienced chills and muscle pain. The next day, she still felt very sick, but instead of getting herself to a doctor or an emergency room, she insisted on going to work because in her decade at Manhattan Ear and Ear she had never called in sick.

On Saturday her condition worsened.

On Sunday she had shortness of breath, a bad cough and chills. A friend took her to the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital where she was admitted when her illness was diagnosed as inhalation anthrax, the most serious form of the disease.

She had reduced liver function on Monday and had trouble breathing on Tuesday. On Wednesday, she died.

Because Nguyen was unconscious much of the time during her illness, authorities never interviewed her. Where could she have contracted anthrax? They searched her apartment, examined her mailbox, her workplace. Nothing. Then they checked her clothing and found a few spores on a coat. One line of reasoning at the time held that she might have picked them up on a crowded subway train. Or maybe a benign letter addressed to her had come in contact, in the vast postal system, with an envelope containing anthrax spores on its way to someone else.

There are no public monuments to the memory of this lost New Yorker save her gravesite in the Holy Cross section of St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx.

A lonely woman? Kathy Nguyen had no family left, but 400 people crowded into St. John Chrysostom Roman Catholic Church for her funeral mass. They were her friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even her landlord, officers of her union, Local 1199 of the Health and Hospital Workers, and officials of the hospitals where she worked and where she died.

Jeffrey can be reached at

What Global Warming?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

By Shawn Dell Joyce

As you read this column, we’re poised on the brink of yet another snow storm, with a few inches still piled up from the last one. Many people have taken this opportunity to wag their fingers at me and say “What global warming?”

 Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman coined the term “global wierding” last week to replace the misleading phrase “global warming.” While the earth has warmed a degree, and is projected to warm quicker than natural over the next century, we are anything but warm today.

 Our weather is indeed weird with massive snow just south of us and rain at the Winter Olympics in Canada. Australia is having a record 13-year drought , and Texas ended a drought this winter with massive snow storms. As a matter of fact, Texas got snow this year before we did.

What does all this prove or disprove? Nothing really. “Climate is what we expect and weather is what we get,” according to NASA. We have only been collecting data on weather for the past 100 years, and trends in climate are measured in thousands of years. A single weather event; like a hurricane, or a spell of unusual weather; like snow in Texas, may be unprecedented; but still within the “normal” range.

 What is actually happening to our climate is right in line with predicted climate change models; some parts of the earth are experiencing drought while flooding happens elsewhere. Storms are more severe, summers are hotter, spring comes earlier, and polar ice is diminishing.

Many old timers in our region remember waist-high snow drifts and ice skating to school on the Wallkill. We haven’t seen a REAL severe winter in a while if you talk to those who actually lived through them. Some of us tourists (residents who haven’t lived here 20 years yet) quake in fear at the thought of a N’oreaster.

 Whether one actually believes in human-driven climate change or not has become irrelevant. The truth is that we all have to eat, and breathe, and both things are becoming more difficult as our population swells, and resources become tight. If you care about clean air, water, and food security, than we have enough common ground to rebuild our country with green energy and localized economies.
We sorely need industry in our region, and unfortunately, most of it has been outsourced overseas. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, Cultural Tourism, and other similar industries are the only ones that can’t be completely outsourced — because they are place-based. You can’t wrap up an historic Victorian house and send it to China for weatherization. That is something that has to be done here, by a local person.

Friedman writes: “I suspect China is quietly laughing at us right now. And Iran, Russia, Venezuela and the whole OPEC gang are high-fiving each other. Nothing better serves their interests than to see Americans becoming confused about climate change, and, therefore, less inclined to move toward clean-tech and, therefore, more certain to remain addicted to oil.”

Let’s stop debating each other and actually do something for a change. Let’s get America back on her feet and into the green millennium so that our kids and grandkids stand a chance.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning newspaper columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week, 2/23/10

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River

By Carrie Jacobson

I stood on one bank of the Wallkill River last week and marveled at the beauty. The river flowed strong and deep and dark. Ice grew along its edges, and trees poked through the ice. On the far bank, last year’s leaves lay brown and amber and warm in the afternoon sun. A frigid wind blew off the top of the water, searing the already chilly afternoon.

I took refuge behind a Dumpster and painted until I could paint no longer. It felt as if the cold had gotten through my clothes, my skin, my flab, and all the way down to my bones. I knew I would not be warm for days.

This painting will be part of the show fellow Zester Shawn Dell Joyce and I are having at the Wallkill River School in March. Come and see! The show opens on March 7; the artists’ reception is March 13, from 5-7 p.m.; the show will be up until the end of the month at the Wallkill River School Gallery, 232 Ward St. (Route 17K), in Montgomery.

“A Bend in the River” is oil on canvas, 12×48. Contact for price and delivery information.

Shawn’s Painting of the Week, 2/23/10

Monday, February 22nd, 2010


Hoeffner’s Farm,” pastel by Shawn Dell Joyce. One of my favorite local farms.

Gigli’s Photo, 2/23/10

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Photography by Rich Gigli

ROPE - The strength of rope is it's tiny strands, bound together, intertwined, with a beginning and an end, can twist, get into knots, form links, carry heavy loads, help guide us, or end a life.

ROPE - The strength of rope is it's tiny strands, bound together, intertwined, with a beginning and an end, can twist, get into knots, form links, carry heavy loads, help guide us, or end a life.

Olympic Observations

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

By Michael Kaufman

The Olympics Games just aren’t the same without the Cold War. I miss hearing American athletes complain about getting jobbed by East German judges…. What ever happened to all those East German judges anyway? Did they get punished or reprimanded after German unification? Were they allowed to continue being judges?… NBC could do a nice human interest story on the subject during the Vancouver games, maybe interview a couple of former East German judges and get some pithy quotes. “I miss seeing that disappointed look on their faces when they saw the scores I gave them…”

Meanwhile, Chairman Mao must be spinning in his grave at the sight of the Nike swoosh logo on the uniforms of the Chinese athletes. Consider the irony of children working long hours in sweatshops making Nike shoes in the People’s Republic of China. Or else maybe he is laughing…thinking about all the money the U.S. owes China today…. Speaking of Mao, do you think he minds that they changed his last name posthumously from Tse-tung to Zedong? Older readers will even recall when American newscasters pronounced his first name “Mayo.” I remember watching Nixon’s visit to China on TV and my friend Dominick pointing at the screen and saying, “Look! There’s Mayo.”

Don’t you love the way Scott Hamilton grunts while watching the figure skaters perform? Hamilton, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, provides expert commentary for NBC. He grunts when they do something spectacular and also when they make a terrible mistake. And unless it is something obvious—like falling on their keister—viewers unfamiliar with the intricacies of the sport have no clue what they just witnessed. But even though I don’t know a lutz from a klutz I love the passion Hamilton brings to the job…
Hockey is a great game and women’s hockey may have a great future but shouldn’t there be more than two countries with good teams for it to be included in the Olympics? It is hard to watch Canada and the U.S. play anyone but each other. I could play for a couple of those other teams if I wanted to have a sex-change operation and renounce my citizenship.

Already we have heard stories about several athletes so intent on fulfilling their dream to compete in the Olympics that they became citizens of another country. There was that fellow from Australia who is actually Canadian (I’m sorry: I haven’t been a sportswriter for years and I don’t know the names like I used to) who finished second in the mogul skiing competition.

That reminds me, what, exactly, do they mean by “mogul?” I looked it up in the dictionary to see if there is a reference to skiing anywhere. I learned some interesting things about the origin of the word, but it pretty much means what I thought. Come to think of it, that might be an interesting Olympic sport after all. Imagine Donald Trump or Warren Buffet skiing for the U.S. against the top business magnates from around the world.

Then there is this Japanese girl who at age 16 wrote to the famous Russian skating coach because she wanted to train with her. She moved to Russia, renounced her Japanese citizenship, trained with the famous coach, Russianized her name, and has now fulfilled her dream of skating in the Olympics. The downside is she isn’t big in Japan.

Big in China (and now the U.S. thanks to NBC) is the married couple that has slept in separate dormitories for 18 years while training to become world-class figure skaters. They too have fulfilled their dream.

Personally, I think they are all a little meshugena (Pronunciation: (mu-shoog’u-nu), n. Slang. a crazy person. Also,me•shug’ga.

Michael can be reached at

How Goes the War?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

By Bob Gaydos

 Let’s talk about war. We don’t do that much in this country. Not really, when you consider that we have been fighting two wars in Asia for nearly a decade and all we seem to be preoccupied with at home is a recession born of greed. We talk about mortgage foreclosures ( but not so much about the foolish loans that led to the foreclosures), about huge Wall Street bonuses at banks bailed out by taxpayers, about people needing jobs, the price of gasoline, politicians who lie through their teeth to get elected then sell their souls to lobbyists to get re-elected, about taxes (which are always too high), about public services (which are always inadequate), about the cost of health care, the newest best deal on a cell phone, about Ipods and steroids and the Super Bowl and tuition and 401Ks and chicken wings and “American Idol” and the Oscars, the Grammies, the Emmys and, for sure, about the weather.

 But we don’t talk about war. Not really. When’s the last time you had a real conversation with someone about either the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan, beyond the question of whether George W. Bush should have started either one? World War II defined the lives of a generation, brought home in weekly newsreels. Korea was not a backburner topic. Vietnam was a nightly visitor in our living rooms.

 Yet, while we have borrowed our way into economic near-Armageddon Iraq has dragged on forever. And now, with the end in sight — President Obama has pledged American troops will be leaving this summer — the messy question about whether or not Iraqis can put together a government that will last and resemble the democracy Bush said he wanted to create there doesn’t come up much around water coolers. Odd, since some would say that is the only way to determine the ultimate “success” of the U.S. invasion.

 But that’s not war talk. Not really. War talk is a headline reporting that a dozen  civilians were killed in a rocket attack on Marjah, a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan. The civilian deaths were described in news stories as a blow to efforts by NATO and the Afghan government to gain support among local residents. Almost lost in the newspaper and TV reports on the U.S. Marine-led assault on Marjah was the fact that it was a major military success, cutting  off logistical support for the Taliban and the opium money that keeps them operating.

 It was the largest ground offensive of a war begun eight years ago to destroy the Al Qaida terrorist group that was hiding in Afghanistan with the blessing and protection of the then-ruling Taliban government. In other words, it was a serious moment in a war which has not been taken nearly as seriously as one would think by politicians and a populace who routinely proclaim their commitment to destroying the people responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

 The military term for the unintended deaths of civilians is “collateral damage.” Not particularly compassionate. But then, war has little room for sentiment. It is about territory and killing. Military people are the ones who are most aware of this when the war talk begins. It is U.S. Marines who are going door to door in Marjah today, seeking insurgents and looking out for booby traps and explosives with every step, their lives on the line. Their lives are more on the line because two rockets — described as “sophisticated” weapons — went off course and struck a home instead of their intended target. The U.S. general in charge immediately apologized to the Afghans and suspended use of the rockets. He said the best way to ensure that such accidents don’t happen is to use more “boots on the ground.”
 That certainly makes the war more personal. Which is the harder decision — putting a few thousands U.S. troops in harm’s way or firing off some “sophisticated” rockets to do the job? More than a few “smart missiles” missed their mark in Iraq as I recall, but there was so much devastation no one seemed to care much after awhile. Except maybe the Iraqis.
 The point is there will inevitably be unintended deaths in war. They are tragic and the warring parties should do all they can to avoid them. Unfortunately, in the kind of wars we are fighting today, the enemy doesn’t much care about rules of engagement or whom he kills. Innocent bystanders are terrorists’ primary weapon. That’s why the United States and its allies must remind Afghan civilians, a war-weary people if ever there was one, that we are different. We are not the Taliban. We are not Al Qaida.

 But we are, finally, fighting a war to defeat those two forces in Afghanistan, with more American boots on the ground, as per Obama’s order. It’s a war that seemed necessary and just to most Americans when Bush sent our troops to fight it. But at some point we stopped talking about it back home and became obsessed with Blackberries and McMansions and SUVs. Not those with loved ones serving in the military. They have those conversations every day. But most of the rest of us want to know why they can’t get the damn weather forecast right and how so many people can take Sarah Palin seriously.

 There’s something wrong with that. When war is an after thought, when there is no sense of shared risk or sacrifice, it is dehumanized. Life is devalued. “Smart” weapons seduce us into thinking there will be no “collateral damage.” In and out. Neat and clean. Boots on the ground remind us that war is about capturing a snowy hilltop or a city built of mud, one careful step at a time. It is about facing death as much as it is about obtaining justice or retribution or whatever word is used to justify it.          

 War is not neat and clean and it is certainly worth talking about.

Bob can be reached at

Political Indigestion

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

A friend of mine says President Obama could arrange for the Second Coming and he’d still be dismissed by a certain racist element that can never forgive or forget his blackness. She’s probably right, and I’m reminded of a column by Maureen Dowd last September when the president appeared before Congress to talk about health care. It was the night Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “You lie” at Obama, and Dowd observed that she heard one more word that went unspoken: “Boy.”

I recall seeing a picture of a roadside sign – “Zoo has an African lion, White House has a lyin’ African” – and was angered by the coded message. I listen to the idiotic rants about Obama’s birth and wonder what planet these people live on. Surely it is not earth.

Reasonable people want this good and decent man to succeed – in the wake of the eight dark years of Bush. We elected him; he is our president. But I suspect that in addition to that Second Coming, he could come up with a cure for cancer and a plan for world disarmament and some people would still regard him as the black guy in the White House.

The right wing has done a number on him and just 13 months into the Obama administration, there must be a gnawing in the Democratic stomach, something hinting that the political makeup of the nation could change in November, and that the change could be painful and long lasting. Obama is the target of course, but truth be told, with some of his moves this past year, he has contributed to what could be the undoing this year of the Democratic majorities in Congress.


Was there a good reason why Obama had to have a health care bill in his first year? Couldn’t he have waited 18 months? Maybe two years? Shouldn’t he have known that dramatic changes would scare a lot of honest people without axes to grind and that maybe they might have needed more time to understand what the changes were all about?

Remember how John Kerry frittered away the summer of 2004 before responding to the Swift Boat lies about him? Shouldn’t Obama have known that you don’t wait for slander to go away. You strike it and kill it in its tracks. Why didn’t he move quicker and more forcefully during the summer of 2009 to take on the Tea Partiers and their lies about health care?

Remember the guy who said he didn’t want government getting involved in his Medicare? Liberals snickered at his ignorance. But why didn’t the White House understand that that one man represented millions more with legitimate worries about medical care? Obama could have – should have – seized the moment, convened a Town Hall meeting, invited only older, more conservative people to ask questions and let them get answers from the president himself.

Why didn’t Obama make mincemeat out of Limbaugh when Limbaugh said he hoped Obama would fail? Doesn’t the nation fail when the president fails?

Why did Obama delight the political right by appointing a treasury secretary who hadn’t paid his taxes? Did he think this would go unnoticed?

Why did Rahm Emanuel use the expression “fucking retarded” to describe a plan he didn’t like? “Stupid” wasn’t good enough? Emanuel played right into Palin’s hands. Surely I wasn’t the only person to remember that her son Trig is one of 400,000 Americans with Down Syndrome. Their families, neighbors and friends constitute an awful lot of people to piss off.

Aside from the fact that Robert Gates is far more appealing than Donald Rumsfeld, could someone explain the difference between the wars with Bush as commander-in-chief and the wars with Obama as commander-in-chief?

How did the Obama Administration manage to schedule the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed for downtown New York without first conferring with the mayor, the police commissioner, the governor?


Scott Brown gets elected in Massachusetts and some Democrats are relieved because they still have 59 votes. So they need to get just one Republican senator to vote with them. Good luck to that. And, uh, fellows, among that group of 59 are such great Democratic stalwarts as Joe Lieberman and Arlen Specter, plus several Blue Dogs. Enjoy your majority.

Kennedy of course is gone. His son Patrick is quitting the House.

Some polls suggest Barbara Boxer may have a rough re-election this year. I don’t recall the last time she had to struggle.

Republicans, sensing blood, are falling all over one another for the right to challenge Rep. John Hall.

Dodd, Bayh and Byron Dorgan are leaving the Senate. And Beau Biden, Joe’s son, decided not to run for his dad’s Delaware Senate seat, which once he could have had just by yelling “Gimme.”

Is anyone willing to bet on the future career of Harry Reid?

Who would have thought that one year after the Bush nightmare ended, there would appear in Minneapolis a huge billboard showing a picture of a smiling George W. Bush and the words “Miss me yet?” Miss Bush? That’s impossible, right?

Jeffrey can be reached at

Buying Into Local Farms

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Small family farms, once on the endangered species list in the American landscape, are making a huge comeback, thanks to a new model of agriculture. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offers farmers a guaranteed income during these uncertain economic times, and gives communities food security.

The way it works is the consumer (that’s you) pays up front the yearly cost of a weekly share of the farm’s harvest. During the growing season, you visit the farm each week, and pick up an assortment of fresh, locally grown produce. The benefit for farmers is that they know exactly how much to grow and can cover the cost up front. The benefits to your family are improved nutrition, food security, and the knowledge of exactly where your food came from, whose hands touched it and how it was grown.

Becoming a CSA member is also good for the environment. In our country, the typical forkful has traveled 1,500 miles from the farm to your mouth! When you join a farm, you avoid all those diesel emissions from transporting the food. Plus, the produce hasn’t been commuting for the past week, so it’s much fresher and tastier.

Never buy food from strangers! Many conventional meat-farming practices are cruel and unhealthy. When you buy locally, you can see how the animals live. Local farms are small-scale producers who generally allow animals access to open pasture. They graze on grasses (much healthier for them and us), nurse their young, and live a good life. Unless you see for yourself how the animals live, you can’t know for sure how they are treated.

Being a member of a farm helps build a closer community. When share members come to the farm to pick up their weekly box of produce, they inevitably end up swapping recipes, chatting with the farmer, and discussing the weekly bounty. CSAs often become gathering places, hosting potluck dinners, special events and even classes.

You connect your children to the land. Many of our children suffer from NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder) and can recognize more than 1,000 brand names of processed foods, but can’t recognize 10 fresh vegetable growing in the field. When you take your children to a farm, they make the connection that their food comes from human hands working the earth. 
Connect yourself to the land and the season. Nothing tastes quite like a crisp apple on a cool fall day, or hot buttered corn off a summer grill, or baked squash in midwinter. When your family is a member of a farm, you are treated to seasonal produce. Produce naturally tastes better in season.
Get to know your region! Farms are beautiful and it’s fun to visit them. Be a tourist in your hometown! Many of our small farms rely on agro-tourism. Visiting a working farm gives your family a taste of your region’s history and local flavor.

Money spent on a local farm stays local and grows! British researchers found that money spent at local farms multiplied because the farmer used a local bank, bought seed and supplies locally, advertised in local papers, and paid local employees. These “farm dollars” had twice the economic impact of the same amount of money spent at a chain grocer.  Farmers tend to help and support each other rather than compete. As a result, CSAs often offer produce grown on other farms to their share members as well.

You acquire a taste for new flavors. Broaden your palate by joining a farm! The farm gives you a bit of everything it grows, which often includes a few things you might not have heard of. This is a great way to find your new favorite vegetable! Mine is spicy hot daikon radishes, long as your arm and white as potatoes!

Eat your view! When you join a CSA, you support a farming family. This helps preserve the farmlands, as well. The only way our farmers can afford to pay the taxes on those picturesque views is if we support the farms!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Eating fresh, (ideally) organic vegetables makes your family healthier, and saves you sick time and medical expenses.
The fresher your vegetables, the higher the vitamin content, according to nutritionists.
Where to find a local C.S.A.?
www.LocalHarvest.Com locates farms within a radius of your address that retail directly to the public.  is your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.  is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning columnist, artist, and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.