Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Salmonella, E-coli, Potato, Potaaato...

Lordy, do we not have enough to worry about without having to deal with yet another
vegetable scare? Today in eastern MA we have had 51 cases of salmonella that may or may not come from tomatoes or lettuce. This is yet another national outbreak of food poisoning threatening to send out populace straight to the porcelain throne. Although at least salmonella isn't as deadly as e-coli. But still, can't we eat a frigging salad in this country without it resulting in the drizzlin' shits?

So much about this whole veggie problem is wrong. For those of us who are supposedly dieting (although, munch munch, yum, those Milky Ways are so yummy, aren't they?) what are we supposed to do, live on frozen veggies and prayer? We eat a lot of vegetables in our family, well more than the average American family. Thankfully, we still have an entire bowl of green tomatoes plucked from the tomato plants before we chucked them into our woods. Enough tomatoes to last us a month or so if we're judicious. But we don't grow lettuce this time of year in New England. Which leaves locally grown produce an impossibility.

Do we dare trust Whole Foods? The e-coli outbreak taught us that organic and expensive don't protect us like we want to believe they will. If the contaminants is in the soil, nothing can save us except to not eat the foods affected. Me, I haven't eaten bagged spinach since the scare. I can deal with frozen spinach since much of what I do with spinach requires cooking anyhow.

As our food sources spread worldwide, it becomes less controllable. We don't know if the Chilean fruit we import is safe, just as we don't know that American produce is safe. We all rely on a Food and Drug Administration that does not work for our food safety. New laws are almost impossible to enact due to the heavy lobbying by large farming and food corporations. Something is seriously wrong, people.

I mean, it comes right down to this. You want to eat a salad for lunch. You hesitate because you might be taking your life in your own hands by eating lettuce, spinach, or tomatoes. Is it worth it? No matter how much you wash your veggies, there is no guarantee that you won't get sick.

Here in New England, we rely heavily on importing produce from California and beyond. Our produce is expensive enough as it is, but I'm willing to bet most New Englanders would pay a bit more for a safe salad. I know I would. So how to put this into practice? Writing your congressional representative would be a start. Writing California congressional representatives might be a better start. Writing the produce conglomerates and asking them to please lobby for safer produce. Oh yeah, this is the real world. I suggest starting your own garden in the spring, and installing a cold cellar in your basement. Because relying on corporate giants to actually care...what a waste of time that would be.
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Blogger Tracy said...

I threw out my lettuce and tomatoes this morning... this totally sucks.

Two weeks ago when Foxy lettuce was recalled it was all that I could find around here in the grocery stores... One of the stores even had the BALLS to post a sign that said "We do not purchase the Foxy lettuce that has been recalled." Um huh-lo is there any other Foxy lettuce?

The follow up story on the news this morning was another fat-people-bashing story about how fat people have more tooth decay and periodontal disease...How can people eat healthier if they can't even have LETTUCE????

I hate the news. I want a salad.

31/10/06 7:48 AM  
Blogger Suldog said...

The first produce growers to offer a guarantee of freshness and no diseases will increase their business exponentially. Something like a money-back guarantee, wherein if you get sick from one of their products, they give you a lifetime supply of Kale or something like that.

31/10/06 10:30 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

There is a salmonella outbreak in Australia too.


31/10/06 1:35 PM  
Blogger Tony clooney said...

In order to protect our food supply, we must address vulnerability gaps in our current system at any point along the distribution chain up to the consumer that would allow accidental contamination of fresh produce.

I am well aware of what they are and can provide solutions to help prevent this ongoing problem.

I spent fifteen years as an Executive Vice President for a major terminal business on the East Coast. My primary responsibility was purchasing millions of dollars in California vegetables a year, including Mexico during the winter.

I know how this works.

I notified the CDC in late 2003 that green onions were the likely source of the hepatitis A outbreak and that they were from Mexico, several days before the FDA banned the importation of green onions into the United States.

Over the years I have followed the recent contamination of tomatoes and more recently spinach. My knowledge is based on experience and facts.

Specific aspects of the industry are severely outdated.

The Federal Government must update regulation of the industry to properly empower the USDA.


2/11/06 11:48 AM  

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