In "Welcome to Tijuana!" (Forum, April 3), Mike Hughes portrays the smell of neighborhood farm animals as negative and incongruent with American life. However, nothing affects public health in America more than food. In heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, diet is a primary cause.
The root of this hazardous diet is our industrial agriculture system. It has been a major contributor to climate change, enabled the obesity epidemic, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, generated dozens of toxic, food-borne illnesses, and mistreated animals.
However, we are a nation built on agrarianism, and much of our population regularly consumes meat products. So when did producing food begin to be seen as incompatible with urban life?
With 79 percent of our population now living in cities, it's increasingly important for us to produce food locally. Urban gardens and livestock can help reduce the truly problematic smells of lawn mowers, pesticides and the diesel trucks that ship our food an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate.
Backyard and community gardens are an inexpensive way to combat these major, widespread problems.
Ashley Patterson Director, Wasatch Community Gardens
Salt Lake City