Vogue update

My letter had the potential to be edited into something exceptionally WASPy and offensive, but I think they did a pretty good job keeping my intent, if removing the snark, as usual.

Vogue, February 2011, p. 98:

I was delighted to see Oakland, my adopted hometown, featured in the November issue [“Now, Forager,” by Hamish Bowles, Up Front]. Bowles’s depiction of Oakland’s stark social stratification and epicurean culture was the most balanced I’ve read in a long time. Although the city is a foodie paradise for the upwardly mobile, the majority of residents in West and East Oakland are forced to shop in subpar convenience stores. When you run articles like this in the future, please leave room for a couple of sentences that give your readers the opportunity to help our neighbors in need. Oakland has a plethora of great community organizations working to provide healthy food to all its residents.

***

What I actually wrote:

Dear Ms. Wintour,

I was delighted to see Oakland, my adopted home town, featured in this issue. Mr. Bowles’s depiction was the most balanced I’ve seen in a long time, alluding both to Oakland’s stark social stratification and epicurean culture.

Although Oakland is a foodie paradise for the upwardly mobile, most of West Oakland and East Oakland have zero grocery stores. While those of us who live in central Oakland are blessed with access to fresh, healthy, relatively affordable food, most of our neighbors must feed their children from overpriced and subpar corner stores, which, while important parts of urban life, simply do not facilitate good health like Berkeley Bowl might. In Oakland, the upper-middle-class has one grocery store for every 4000 residents; the rest of the city averages one store for every 25,000 people.

When you run articles like these in the future, please leave room for a couple sentences that give your readers the opportunity to help our neighbors in need. Oakland has a plethora of great community organizations working to provide healthy food to all residents, such as City Slicker Farms, Mandela Cooperative, and Planting Justice. Given that the first two are based mere blocks from Mr. Bowles’s hosts, it seems reasonable to think that we could take a break from yet another “fish-out-of-water” story to help those without the luxury of choice.

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