Eating meat kills
I haven't tried Linda McCartney's mass-marketed vegetarian dishes, and am not tripping over myself to do so. My last foray into mainstream vegetarianism -- the European trial-balloon veganburger at McDonald's in Amsterdam -- was a bit disappointing, and I left behind on my table a small mountain of paper, plastic and styrofoam.

McNichol presents some valuable information in the article; I especially appreciated his summary of the shift away from food production for local and regional markets, and his wit in putting down both Linda and her dishes brought numerous smiles to my lips. But while he rightfully writes about fat and salt content, the article reflects no awareness of the importance of the movement to wean ourselves away from the animal-products diet that's depleting the water tables, multiplying pesticide pollution, making us dependent on foreign oil and the wars needed to keep the supplies coming, gobbling up nonrenewable resources, causing deforestation, and bringing intense suffering to staggering numbers of slave animals who seem to value their freedom, their pleasures and their lives much as we do. Such cheap-target journalism doesn't help move us away from the Standard American Diet (SAD).

If not for the author's species-centric blind spot, his demagoguery and his embarrassing infatuation with his own cleverness, the article could have been a good one. It's bad enough having Newts in Congress and Rushes on the airwaves. Please spare us diet-reform reactionaries front-paged in SF Weekly. Just give McNichol what he and the subject well deserve -- a short to moderate-length article in the food review section.

Billy Ray Boyd
San Francisco

Let it be
I was struck by the biting tone of Tom McNichol's "Bland on the run" (Feb. 15). While I think the idea for the piece was a brilliant one, you might have found a writer without the obvious anti-McCartney bias: What was getting the review here, anyway? Paul McCartney, the Beatles, the Beatles' wives, Wings or Linda McCartney's food?

What does McNichol mean when he says, for example, "Why would anyone who married into the Beatles have her own line of frozen foods?" What does that have to do with anything? The tone of this remark and others to follow suggest that McNichol either thinks that wives of the Fab Four should remain in the shadows where they belong, or that since the only conceivable motive for launching a business must be money, self-respecting Beatles' wives -- with plenty of their husbands' dough already -- should relax and enjoy.

But the crux of the issue is that Linda McCartney's food should have been evaluated solely on its merits (or, yes, lack of them), and not attached to the coattails of her husband's. The accompanying sidebar, "Food you can lose," came closer to the article's purported intent, but even then McNichol just couldn't resist the occasional jab at the duo's pop-music history. The relentless shots at Wings throughout the article, while perhaps deserved, strayed from the suggested focus of the story: Are the fabled frozen entrŽes any good? Or good for you?

The dramatic photograph of McCartney's Fettuccine Alfredo tipping the scales on a Big Mac should not be news to any aware food consumer: Fettuccine Alfredo has always been a walking heart attack, McCartney's or otherwise, and in case you didn't believe it, the Center for Science in the Public Interest told you so last year. Most of us who look for new and innovative nonmeat food products knew from the start that McCartney's dishes were never going to grace our freezers.

Even McNichol's evaluation of Linda McCartney's use of her high profile to market these frozen dinners treads on spurious ground; celebrities have been doing exactly what McCartney is doing for years, bringing all kinds of personal agendas to the public's attention, commercial and otherwise. Criticize the practice in general -- and it's entirely appropriate to question McCartney's motives -- but be fair and keep playground politics out of the deliberation.

The personal attacks on McCartney, her husband and his career, and the motives behind the meatless entrees deserved more than mere speculation and cynicism: The objects of McNichol's scorn deserved an opportunity to respond. Where was it?

Katharine English
San Francisco

More Linda, warmed over
I've recently returned from a vacation and have just gotten around to your February 15 issue with, I assume, all the major changes you intend for the near future. I was poised to fire off a flame concerning the lack of Smart Feller and especially Jack Boulware. Thanks for keeping them around. They are the main reasons for my picking up the Weekly.

The Tom McNichol article ("Bland on the run") was brutal and heavy-handed. I loved it! I've seen the letters in the February 22 issue and I suppose the majority of your mail was against McNichol's content and tone. Let me say this as a vegetarian, animal rights activist and music lover: He's only just scratched the surface of the disgust and contempt I feel for Linda and her foodstuffs. Objectivity and balance are not what I'm looking for in a local weekly feature. Good journalism and solid writing skills are.

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