Friday, May 7, 2010

Another E Coli Outbreak

I just heard on the news that there has been a recall of romaine lettuce associated with an e coli outbreak that has 12 people hospitalized, two in critical condition. This frustrates me on so many levels. First, I am frustrated because e coli is so dangerous. It is not the "bad stomach bug" most people think it is. It is a deadly infection that, in children especially, often causes something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or HUS. This is scary stuff, folks. Basically, the body's systems begin to shut down, one at a time and may or may not start working again. Hospitalization lasts for MONTHS. I understand why the media does not explain how deadly e coli can be - if they did it would shut down our food growing and distribution industry. But still, it frustrates me that it is portrayed so lightly.

I am also frustrated that our congress will most likely "respond" by passing legislation that does not actually help anything, and might actually make things worse. This sort of problem is caused by large scale industrial agriculture-farmers who do not have to look their customers in the eyes; farmers who must compete on price alone, so they must cut corners elsewhere just to keep from going under. These kinds of things rarely happen in small scale farming, so why does our government try to solve the problems by tying the hands of the small farmer?

I'm also frustrated because this kind of thing makes me more scared to buy from the grocery store. My garden is small this year and the farmer's market is still not offering much in the way of produce; mostly just lettuce and strawberries, for which I am very grateful. But, thank God we are in May and last year the farmer's market had more fresh veggies and fruit than we could want by the beginning of June. Thank God!!

Stepping down off the soapbox, now.


motherhen68 said...

Lori, I had not heard about this latest outbreak. It saddens me so much when produce is contaminated. Not only is it dangerous, it just shows how horrible the working conditions are for migrant workers who pick produce.

Redd and I had a long talk yesterday at lunch about the plight of migrants who pick tomatoes in FL. Basically it amounts to slavery. Not even indentured servitude was as bad as these people have it. Redd's of the school "well, they shouldn't be here illegally", but I'm of the thought "NAFTA caused them to lose their farms in their homeland. What would you do, enter a country illegally or watch your children starve?". I know it's not as simple as all that.

Compared to how I used to eat, even as recent as a year ago, I don't really buy any produce at the grocery store. Bananas and avocados are about it. The rest I buy from the FM or we just don't eat it. Now, I did buy lettuce and such last summer, but I'm almost afraid to buy it now.

Our food system needs to be revamped, but it'll never happen. Big Agra has too much $$ invested in Congress to let anything happen.

The Book Lady Online said...

Back when we lived in Shreveport and i had a larger garden and more consistent farmer's market, I almost never bought produce, bread or even meat at the grocery store (I MISS that farmer's market!!). This year, I'm having to get more there since we've moved so many times, making a large garden very difficult and having a less produce filled farmer's market. I am so thankful we are staying put for a while so that we can get our local food system in place. The grocery store is getting more and more scary to me.