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RE: More on Allergy-Free Gardening


Adam wrote:

>I wonder, and perhaps the list may know the answer: Is childhood and adult
>asthma exacerbated more by diesel and fossil particulate, rat and roach
>droppings or by pollen from plants and trees?   

Considering that the EPA just released a report saying that power plant soot
is a serious contributer to lung problems and, in fact, is responsible for
deaths due to breathing difficulties, I think the current evidence is
weighting rather heavily on the man-made pollution end, rather than the
pollen end.

>Are asthma attacks primarily
>caused by physical stimulants ( i.e pollen and pollution) or are can they be
>set off psychosomatically?  

Given that conditioning (from what I remember in psych class) is pretty much
an "across the board" phenomenon, I wouldn't be surprised if asthma, too,
could be set off psychosomatically.  Doesn't let one off the hook that
something intially triggered the reaction and could continue to trigger it
just enough to keep the conditioning going.  Stop the trigger and the
conditioned response will die out in time, too.

>For CG's
>on a shoestring budget, low pollen gardening may not become a viable option
>until nurseries sell enough of them to discount or even write off at the end
>of season. 

As I want the fruit, most of my plants are self-fertile.  I think this could
be more of an issue for the "greening folks" rather than us hard-core "crop"
growers! ;-)  

Bruce Wittchen wrote:

>More research is needed into the increase of respiratory problems but don't
>expect much, given the clout of the trucking industry.

As one who knows far, far more about disability advocacy than I'd really
like, I'd say you're giving up *way* too soon, Bruce.  If you're part of any
type of asthma support group, you folks need to not only organize
yourselves, but connect with other like-minded groups and pressure both the
trucking industry and your elected officials to start getting serious about
alternative fuels, better gas mileage, emission controls, etc.

Alternative fuels are starting to become a niche market for urban buses and
corporate fleets, especially in big cities.  An awful lot of bureaucrats
have lot touch with their creative side -- a few polite reminders (along
with official documentation, including cost-effectiveness anaylsis) of how
other cities/companies are handling their fleets can go a long way toward
changing the situation where *you* live.

>Even if pollen only contributes to and isn't the sole cause of allergies &
>asthma, it isn't right for a group, frugal community gardeners or not, to
>add to the problem.  If an organization doesn't have the means to plant
>allergy-free trees within the confines of a city, it shouldn't be planting
>trees.  Especially when the word community is in their name.  

So, to save yourself a few weeks of pollen, you'll willing to tell folks
they can't plant trees at all, which do provide benefits for everyone for
the rest of the year when they *aren't* producing pollen.  However, you're
not willing to pressure your local government and corporations to switch to
alternative fuels which would clean up the air (for everyone) for the entire
year and/or pressure government and local landlords to clean up their
properties so that children don't have to breathe (and injure their lungs)
on vermin feces.  

You *really* think that without citizen pressure, fossil fuel consumption is
going to go down?  What then, happens to your "benefit" of stopping tree
planting?  If you don't hit the major contributors to a health condition and
it's well-documented that those major contributors are increasing, then the
"minor adjustments" you are advocating are simply going to maintain the
status quo.

>It's similar,
>sort of, to the medical missions in Africa who couldn't afford disposable
>syringes so chose to re-use syringes and, according to legend, spread HIV
>and other bloodborne diseases.

It's not similar at all. There's a name for this type of exaggerated example
used to provoke an emotional response to drown out the merely glancing
similarity, but I didn't pay nearly as much attention in philosopy class as
I did in psych class! ;-)

>Unless the people who would clean up seed pods are the only ones who would
>suffer from pollen-induced asthma, the choice to plant male trees isn't a
>trade-off.  

City goverments are not going to plant female trees (which bear fruit) over
male trees because:

1) People will complain about the mess (see?  Talking to the government
works! ;-))
2) There's no money in the budget to hire city workers to clean up the mess
3) Pollen, like asthma suffers is invisible, but splattered fruit and
neatnik constituents are all too visible
4) Splattered fruit is a "slip and fall" risk to the elderly, the disabled
and the frail -- a good proportion of whom will call a personal injury
lawyer when injured.  A city-wide mess of splattered fruit is grounds for a
class-action lawsuit.

>It's never fair unless those making
>the decision pay all the costs of the decision.  

And this happens how often in real life?  

>I think pollen is much less
>of a problem in the city than diesel exhaust, but at least pollen is
>something we have some control over.

If we, as community gardeners, cannot speak truth to power, then we deserve
to roll over and have the developers pave over our gardens. I'm scratching
my head here, but I can't think of any major world religion that condones
your stragety of overlooking the abuses of the powerful in favor of
attacking the weak. ("Sins of Omission" is just screaming through here -- I
paid LOTS of attention in theology class! ;-)) 

In other words, the tone that comes through your post is that even though
you believe that powerful entities are the primary contributors to your
problem, you'd rather pick on the small fry because you believe that you can
"win" there.  I believe the secular term for that stragety is "bully."

I have nothing but sympathy for your condition, as I suffer from an
"invisible" disability myself.  But if you (collectively) don't make the
powerful understand your problem and offer them solutions that would be
politically and economically more attractive, overall, your condition will
never improve.



 
Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of 
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460


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