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About nine years ago, I paid a visit to Austin, TX. At that time, my perception of the city’s national reputation—to the extent that it had one, compared to, say, Dallas or Houston—derived mainly from its standing as a center of the natural products industry (Whole Foods Market is headquartered there, for example). That was undoubtedly the reason that the Organic Trade Association chose to hold its annual convention —which I was covering as a member of the business press—in Austin that year. The city was also renowned for its thriving alternative music scene and, on a seasonal basis, for bats.

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