Thursday, December 12, 2013
Rats on a decaying and odoriferous marine dock? What a surprise! Anyone who has lived near saltwater docks knows that they go hand in hand.
Custom House Wharf
2012 File Photo/Gabe Souza
And as the docks deteriorate, the population of rats becomes more brazen and fearless and begins showing up more often as their need to search out and find food becomes more desperate.
And this is what we present to visitors to the Old Port. Old docks, falling-down buildings, odors that escape the imagination and creating a "no reason to come back here" attitude from visitors.
When will Portland realize this and insist the city planners, councilors and mayor do something about it? And it cannot be a piecemeal effort. It must be a coordinated, "everything goes" attitude and turn the area into a showplace.
Impossible? Hardly, considering harbors all up and down the East Coast have done it already, from Savannah, Ga., to Portsmouth. A plan was developed and the community got behind it and made it happen. Short-term pain? You bet. But long-term gain? Absolutely!
Considering the area from East End Beach to the Portland Fish Pier should be the goal. Making this a very visitor-friendly and welcoming area should be the reason.
The question always is "What to do with the existing businesses?"
• Coordinate with the recent Sprague land lease west of the bridge and create a Fishing Village. Create ample parking there with space for lobstermen, draggers and seafood outlets.
• Get rid of all the old piers, buildings and pilings (painful but necessary).
• Hire a "waterfront designer" to create a visitor showplace.
• Get community backing without the "Monday morning quarterbacks" who have always stifled previous efforts.
Ambitious? You bet. But if we are ever going to see an Old Port we can be proud of, now is the time to start, not tomorrow or the next day, month or year.
No science-based reason to reject organic food study
This is in response to Elizabeth Kellett's letter to the editor of Sept. 20 about organic foods ("Organic food good for overall health").
She asked a number of questions.
When and where these studies were done can be found in the paper, "Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review," published Sept. 4 in Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 157, No. 157, pages 348-366.
In summary, the studies reviewed were published in the MEDLINE database from January 1966 to May 2011 as well from other databases.
For financing: There was no primary funding source. Of the 12 authors, the third author received an undergraduate funding grant from Stanford University.
Levels of toxins were discussed. The study's abstract states: "The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce … but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small."
Their conclusion: "The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
I do not believe the Press Herald article was misleading. I agree we should not be fooled by "questionable studies." However, this study appears to have been well done, and it was supported by the Stanford School of Medicine and its Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, as well as the university's Department of Management Science and Engineering and Department of Statistics.
If one wishes to eat organic foods and does so on a personal, philosophical or other belief system, then I have no argument. But don't disparage what appears to be a good scientific study.
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