Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Chattanooga (Tenn.) Free Press on organic produce:
Folks have plenty of good reasons for believing all sorts or myths, lies, cons, bunkum and baloney.
People believe in astrology because they want to be able to make sense of the world — or because they're indecisive and want help in making decisions. The heartbreaking desire to reach a lost love one leads otherwise rational people to turn to séances, mediums and Ouija boards. Grocery stores and farmers markets are filled with people buying organic produce because they think it's healthier for themselves and their families.
That's right. In the grand scheme of hooey and hogwash, the purported health benefits of organic fruits and vegetables over the cheaper conventional versions of the same produce rank right alongside crop circles, spoon-bending and ab-belts on the scam meter. The nutritional benefits of organic produce are nothing more than a superstition.
The organic industry's lobbying mouthpiece, the Organic Consumers Association, has spouted all sorts of claims about the benefits of organic produce, such as "On average, organic is 25% more nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals than products derived from industrial agriculture."
But those figures come from a report filled with unsubstantiated data that was paid for by the organic food companies. Needless to say, it was in their best interest to stretch (or invent) the truth.
When actual scientists performed actual scientific research about the nutritional benefits of organic produce, they discovered absolutely no benefit in consuming organic produce.
The Stanford University study, "Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review," found "that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli," according to a New York Times recap of the study.
"Conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue, but the levels were almost always under the allowed safety limits, the scientists said. The Environmental Protection Agency sets the limits at levels that it says do not harm humans," the report found. ...
There's nothing wrong with wanting to make sure that you and your family are eating food that's as healthy as possible. In fact, it's admirable. But there's no need to waste money on organic produce when conventional fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious at a fraction of the cost. In other words, don't be a sucker.
Knoxville News-Sentinel on U.S. remaining engaged with new democracies:
The outraged reaction of Muslim protesters to the trailer of a film that defames the prophet Muhammad — and that may not even exist in full — is both discouraging and dismaying.
The demonstrations have taken place in some 20 countries, and, in Libya, they cost the life of the U.S. ambassador and three members of his staff. The Libyan government has promised to work with the U.S. authorities in tracking down the killers and reportedly has arrested as many as 50 people, some of them foreigners, in connection with the attack.
There was some reassuring news when an amateur video surfaced of Libyan civilians rescuing Ambassador Christopher Stevens from the consulate in Benghazi and rushing him to the hospital, cheering "God is great" when they mistakenly thought he had survived. It is a reminder not to judge a country's people by the worst among them.
In those Muslim nations where our embassies and diplomats seem to be under regular threat by impetuous, irrational mobs, it would be a natural reaction to pack up our aid and emissaries and go home. The reaction would be natural — but mistaken.
For us to dissociate ourselves or even lower our level of engagement with the Muslim world is to invite even greater problems in the future. ...
Other cultures not steeped in free speech might not understand that our government allows free expression, even when it is offensive to many. Our encouragement of fledgling democracies should include sharing the bedrock principles upon which democracy stands.
It will be a tough, thankless task explaining the concept of free expression to people who have never enjoyed that right, but that is not an excuse for not trying. We owe it to those who yearn for democracy, as well as to those of us who have long enjoyed its freedoms.
The Tennessean, Nashville, on preserving Civil War sites:
In early August, retired history teacher Steve Bartlett of Waverly, Tenn., wrote on this page to urge our state's congressional delegation to support legislation to acquire lands that saw fighting in some of the most storied battles of the Civil War.
Many people may not realize the national military parks at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Petersburg do not contain the entire battlefields. Nearby sites of historic significance are privately owned, and in some cases have modern developments sitting on them. That's the sort of thing that makes historians cringe. It should give the rest of us pause, too.
As Bartlett noted, Tennesseans fought and fell in those three battles. There is a direct connection to the Volunteer State. We don't yet know how the legislation to expand those parks will fare. But it's encouraging to see how here, in Middle Tennessee, efforts on a smaller scale to recover Civil War battle sites are succeeding.
Gettysburg, Pa., may be the only Civil War site that the general public could name these days — which explains in part why these preservation efforts are needed. Bloody battles large and small were fought for two years before and two years after Gettysburg, and more battles were fought in Tennessee than any state except Virginia. One of them, the Battle of Franklin, is slowly coming to light through bit-by-bit acquisition of the land where nearly 2,000 Union and Confederate troops died on Nov. 30, 1864.
The Washington-based nonprofit Civil War Trust has funded purchase of a small but crucial parcel of land near downtown Franklin where the shooting started. ...
Franklin already has preserved sites, such as Carnton Plantation and the Carter House; but bringing together the battlefield opens up a range of possibilities for education and tourism that most communities only dream of. The effort should soldier on.