A Bitter Fruit: A Child’s Plea to the City

February 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Melissa Graham


My son delved into political activism last night, writing his first letter to a political official. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the issue that piqued his ire was food-related.

As many of you have already heard, Chicago’s health department engaged in some boneheaded, yet ultimately unsurprising, behavior on Thursday. In the course of a health inspection, the city inspectors destroyed twelve hundred dollars worth of granola bars and seven thousand dollars of frozen local fruit owned by small business owners Sunday Dinner Chicago and Flora Lazar, respectively. This jaw-dropping exercise of waste occurred despite the fact that there was nothing wrong or unhealthful about either the fruit or granola bar. The city’s rationale isn’t entirely clear – it seems that they based their action on the fact that the products had been processed prior to the granting of individual licenses to the businesses in question even though they were operating out of a licensed shared use kitchen, Kitchen Chicago.

I knew that this terrible news would affect my son as the products made by both of these small companies are among his favorites. When he returned from school, I relayed the bad news about the destruction. His eye welled up with tears,
his voice trembled as he asked whether this meant no more granola bars and fruit candies.

Sadness turned to anger and then righteous indignation. How dare the health inspector waste that fruit? Why couldn’t they have allowed the bars to be donated to the people in need? What was the city thinking?

Unfortunately, I had no answers as these questions were swirling about in my head as well.

He then decided he had to do something. First, he suggested that we offer to Flora some of our stock of frozen fruits so that she could start again. Very sweet, I told him, but neither Flora nor SDC received a business license so our supply would not help. I suggested a letter to the editor, which I would transcribe. I should have known that an editor is not a concept with which he is familiar. Instead, he decided to write a letter to the mayor and here it is, spelled phonetically, of course.

Dear Mayor Daley

And the question posed to the health inspectors:

Why Did

Later that evening, we enjoyed the last of our Flora pate de fruits. While delicious, they indeed were a bitter fruit.