Healthier food makes the best 'value' meal

With the news that Sonic, Smashburger and Pudgie's will be opening new restaurants, I am highly concerned about Long Island's future .

With America's surging obesity and diabetes rates, do we really need more fast- food joints on Long Island? Furthermore, with the latest United Nations reports linking meat production and climate change, there is all the more reason to move away from quick meal solutions that are heavily reliant on cheap animal products.

It's time to embrace healthy, local and sustainable food options. Long Island's new establishments should feature organic, local and wholesome meals to solve the problems our country faces.

Andrew Greco, Smithtown

Editor's note: The writer is vice president of Stony Brook University's Environmental Club.

Drought-resistant landscapes beckon

To be sure, our water districts and pumping facilities may need our attention , but the bigger, "greener" landscapes will soon become passé as we all lean toward the concept of xeroscaping - planting lawns and plants that thrive in dry conditions. Surely Newsday could have wielded its influence to encourage all of us to change our selfish ways. There are many alternatives to lush lawns and foliage. If we turn a blind eye, the day will come when we have no choice.

Susan S. Colledge, Southampton

He's not hooked on long bass season

Extending the black sea bass season astounds me.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has no control over the numbers of fish. The fish move to wherever the food chain dictates. Setting season take without an accurate count is destructive to populations.

Henry Dam, Cold Spring Harbor

Argument over trees is rooted in Flushing

Although I'm sympathetic to the anger expressed in a story about the loss of mature oak trees along Port Washington Boulevard, the quote from a Port Washington resident: "It looks horrible. What does he want this place to look like? Flushing, Queens?" is ignorant.

Flushing was the birthplace of commercial horticulture in this country and is home to historic tree specimens planted more than 150 years ago. There are grassroots movements right here in Flushing with the goal of protecting trees.

MillionTreesNYC has been training tree stewards and planting trees throughout the five boroughs. During the recent heat wave, I thanked all the trees and the shade they provided - right here in Flushing, Queens!

Patty Kleinberg, Flushing

Editor's note: The writer is deputy director of the Queens Botanical Garden.

It is sad to see the loss of these great trees. I remember when they were planted.

The beauty of nature takes generations to reach maturity. Gone in less than half a day is what made the property worth looking at. What's left is just another unattractive, stucco-covered styrofaom strip of stores. What were they thinking?

Kevin Hickson, Port Washington

Like it or not, nurses faced with overtime

Although the story "Pension padding" may have the public interest at heart, it was wrong to start the article about Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's probe of overtime abuse with the words, "Nurses do it."

The article fails to document any abuses among nurses. It is wrong to make such statements without context.

The vast majority of nurses are not government employees. They struggle to save for retirement. Portraying nurses - arguably the backbone of the health-care industry - as greedy evildoers does nothing but hurt some of society's most valuable workers.

Given the relative shortage of qualified nurses, we are frequently required to work overtime whether we want to or not. An analysis of hours will demonstrate that overtime is spread across the board.

Christine Rosenberg, R.N., Dix Hills

Symbolism is seen in proposed mosque

While I agree with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that here in the United States the government does not and should not tell people how or where to pray, the proposed mosque near Ground Zero must be set apart . Ground Zero is a sacred memorial to thousands of innocent people murdered at the hand of fanatic fundamentalist Islam.

Unfortunately, Western thinking does not understand the importance of symbolism in the Arab world, and this mosque will become just such a symbol.

With Islamic power and influence growing in the international political arena, it is most important that this area be kept free of any possible opportunity to become a political symbol.

Rolf Grayson, Melville

The building of a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero has created a storm of protest that has already developed into a major ideological conflict, pulling in even Mayor Bloomberg, and I fear it will only get worse.

American Muslims claim their constitutional right to construct a house of worship where they see fit. Those who continue to mourn the loss of loved ones at what is today considered holy ground - where thousands of Americans of every religious denomination have lost their lives to Muslim terrorists - feel a mosque near this site would be an insult.

While a place of prayer at that site has been long sought by those who come to pay their respects, I feel it should be a multidenominational house of worship, as has been done many times before in such situations. This would certainly be a more inclusive compromise where people of all faiths could come and not feel excluded.

Howard Silverstein, Jericho

MTA union response to OT is off the rails

What I find more disgusting than learning that MTA workers receive overtime pay when they are not working is the audacity of union leaders to defend it .

This says everything that is wrong with unions today. At one time, unions played a crucial role in gaining fair labor standards for workers. Today, they have become a group of self-serving fat cats. And I am subsidizing this nonsense through a payroll tax? Is there any wonder why there is an $800-million budget gap?

Robert Lenahan, Moriches