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  Sierra Magazine
  September/October 2006
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Shanghai by Bike
Two-Time Losers
Fall Fashion
My Low-Carbon Diet
Interview: Al Gore
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
Good Going
The Green Life
Hey Mr. Green
Sierra Club Bulletin
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Sierra Magazine
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September/October 2006

Cooking With Gas
Thanks to Paul Rauber for pointing out the amount of gasoline used to bring food to our grocery stores ("Miles to Go Before You Eat," May/June; also see "Correction" below). It's a great reason to grow a vegetable garden or shop at a farmers' market.

Rauber might have told readers that shipping meat wastes even more gasoline than shipping produce. Transport of animal flesh requires very cold refrigeration or freezing with compressors that use additional gas. By choosing most of our food from the plant kingdom, we not only save gasoline, but we also do a favor to the topsoil, rivers, lakes, oceans, and air--all of which are damaged by the mass confinement, feeding, slaughter, and transportation of animals for food.
Patti Breitman
Fairfax, California

Here in San Pedro Bay, by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the true cost of goods is constantly on our minds as we watch 40 percent of the imports that come into the United States pass right under our noses. Unfortunately, shipping exhaust passes right into our noses. This pollution poses a greater health risk to Southern Californians than pollution from cars and oil refineries combined.

The Harbor Vision Task Force of the Sierra Club's Angeles Chapter is promoting cleaner and more efficient transit, better logistics to eliminate empty backhauling and reduce truck queuing and idling times, and a reduction in shipping through local production and distribution.

Learn more by viewing the Sierra Club Chronicles episode "Breathless in L.A." at
Tom Politeo
Co-chair, Harbor Vision Task Force
San Pedro, California

Your article on food miles made a compelling case for buying local, which would have been even stronger if you had included the energy required to produce the food. University of Colorado emeritus physics professor Albert A. Bartlett has referred to modern industrial agriculture as "the process of using land to convert petroleum into food," reflecting the heavy reliance on petroleum-based fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Eben Fodor
Eugene, Oregon

Move Over, McMansions
I read with interest "Slaying Monster Homes" ("Sierra Club Bulletin," May/ June). In New York City, we have initiated a new zoning category, R2A, that eliminates the loopholes that allowed these monstrosities to be built. We are now rezoning neighborhoods that have requested this designation.
Tony Avella
Council member, Northeast Queens
New York City, New York

Buying locally grown food offers significant fuel savings, but not as much as indicated in "Miles to Go Before You Eat" The original paper on which the article was based, "The Load Less Traveled" (Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 2002), contained a calculation error. In addition, Sierra did not account for the differing fuel-energy values of gasoline (light truck), diesel (commercial truck), bunker oil (ship), and jet fuel (airplane). The Leopold Center's recalculations are posted at

We welcome letters in response to recent articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3459; fax (415) 977-5794; e-mail

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