Friday, September 22, 2006

m: spinach, anyone?

Another quick food note...

Let me just say that this whole thing with the E. coli in the spinach from the Salinas Valley is very sad. It's really a shame that so many people got this disgusting disease from eating something as healthy as spinach leaves.

However... Telling everyone to stay away from all spinach is absurd. When we went out to dinner last weekend and ordered the spinach salad, the waiter could not believe it. No, they had indeed thrown out all their spinach - haven't you heard? Spinach gives you E. coli! Ooops, sorry, we had just hoped that a yummy local restaurant maybe would have been using fresh spinach, not the bagged stuff. How culd we have been so naiive?

Alton Brown says it right:

...21 states affected by spinach grown not only in one state but in one region of one state. Had the spinach stayed near home odds are good this would have been caught sooner. But packaging and trucking just gave the 0157:H7 time to grow. (For some reason I’m reminded of Charlie Sheen in Apocalypse Now talking about “…every minute Charlie squats in the bush he gets stronger…”.) What’s my point? Had the big chain grocers and restaurant suppliers purchased locally grown produce, this wouldn’t have happened. But don’t blame them. Nope. Blame us. By demanding fresh spinach year round (or anything else for that matter) we create the monster. It’s like Dan Akroyd thinking of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghost Busters. Our own unnatural desires and our refusal to consume locally grown foods have brought us to this sorry state.

And to make matters worse, our ever-wise government has told us to eat no fresh spinach at all. They could have advised us to eat only locally grown spinach but Noooooooo. Let’s shoot every poor farmer in America that’s doing his or her job in the foot. And why? Because we can’t sort out what went there when and how and what it might have touched or been near. Here’s the news kids: when the system gets this big and out of whack, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (and the USDA and the CDC, and the FDA) cannot keep us safe. I want you to think about that a minute. It’s not their fault. it simply cannot be done. It should not be done.

Right now everyone is doing what they have to do and by the looks of it they’re doing it right. I’m hoping that ground zero for this outbreak will be discovered and that something will be learned. But I still hold that until we diversify and decentralize our food growing system and learn to eat locally and seasonally, we only open up ourselves for more of the same.

And let that be a lesson to us all.


And yes, still waiting. Two days overdue and counting...

1 comment:

greyguitar said...

still watching and waiting...

hope the big day was/is great!