|Sent on:||Sunday, January 26, 2014 7:48 AM|
To the Members of the Three Rivers
We wish first and foremost to express our appreciation for the hard work the board and the Three Rivers staff have done to keep the co-op operating and thriving. The Knoxville food co-op has been a remarkable success, having survived the failure of many other cooperatives in the country; it has provided Knoxvillians with not only a good place to buy wholesome foods, but also a hub for health and environmentally conscious people and groups to come together for the betterment of the Knoxville area.
However, many of your long-time members and customers are increasingly concerned about the rising focus on Three Rivers Market’s acceptance of the cruel exploitation of animals and the negative health consequences of the consumption of meat both to individuals, society and the environment. The co-op was conceived and run as a vegetarian, meat-free concern through something like the first two decades of its existence. The decision to not only sell meat but to promote it is not consistent with the intentions of the co-ops founders and most of its members for those decades.
For the past two holiday seasons a large
banner has hung above the main entrance of Three Rivers Market, urging us to
order our turkeys early. Members of the Three Rivers staff have argued that it
is essential that the co-op offer meat as that increases their potential market
and allows for more income to better meet the needs of the co-op and its members
and insure its continued existence. But if the co-op no longer stands for what
was one of its most basic core principles, what is it we are protecting? Are we
really significantly different in purpose from say, Earth Fare? By selling meat
the co-op implies that is an important and, since the co-op is health-oriented,
healthy food group. We disagree; we believe we have the facts on our side, but
arguing the merits of a plant-based diet is not the purpose of this letter.
Our purpose is to express our concern, to make the Three Rivers management aware that many of its members and customers are greatly troubled about this issue. To us it is not simply a matter of taste and preference. It is both a health issue and a moral issue. It would be just as logical for the Three Rivers Market to sell tobacco products; that also would increase our potential market and be a convenience for some members. Many studies have concluded that meat consumption is comparable to smoking as far as cancer risk is concerned. Recently the scholarly journal _Nutrients_ published a study making that point: “Consumption of animal products correlated with cancer incidence with a lag time of 15–25 years.” That is to say nothing of the many other ways in which meat can harm human health and the environment.
Many of us were unaware of the members’ meeting during which the addition of meat products was decided upon; perhaps that is our own fault for not staying better informed. Turning back the clock on that decision will, we’re sure, be difficult. But we can, at least, urge the management there to consider our position, to make meat less of a focal point, and to include as many plant-based items as meat items on, for example, the sushi counter. We await your response before deciding upon any further action.
John Mayer and Kevin Meyer, K-Town
The undersigned member/owners and customers of Three Rivers Market