Posts tagged ‘spinach’

from the ARE YOU #$@% KIDDING ME department…

We all know that food safety issues are a problem.  Although the cardinal law of business is “don’t kill your customers,” businesses like Peanut Corp. of America and Earthbound Farms are negligent or evil enough to continually attempt just that.

“If we want to have bagged spinach and lettuce available 24/7, 12 months of the year, it comes with costs.” -Bill Marler (the lawyer who represented plaintiffs in the 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak)

In an article that could be out of a spoof magazine, this article in the San Francisco Chronicle outlines how, rather than holding Big Ag and food processing companies accountable for food safety, giant food retailers are imposing new restrictions on farmers.  Okay, that’s fair enough, I guess… except when their regulations are based on pure paranoia, at the expense of science.

In perhaps an unconscious nod to the fact that it’s managing the perception of safety rather than safe practices, it’s called the “leafy greens marketing agreement.”  Here are some of their great ideas:

  • An Amish farmer that uses a horse to plow his fields can’t sell his greens to retailers, who would much rather purchase bagged lettuce trucked from hundreds of miles away (check the “product of” signs on those packages)
  • neither can a farmer who has children under 5, because, of course, diapers are our biggest threat to food safety.
  • “I was driving by a field where a squirrel fed off the end of the field, and so 30 feet in we had to destroy the crop”  “On one field where a deer… didn’t eat anything, just walked through and you could see the tracks, we had to take out 30 feet on each side of the tracks and annihilate the crop.
  • ponds are poisoned and bulldozed, poison traps are placed on the edges of fields and between rows, and companion plantings on the edges of fields are razed for “bare-dirt buffers”.

in the name of sterility.  Because everyone knows that the ecosystem is out to harm us, and the best way to interact with a system that has sustained life since the beginning of time is to beat the living shit out of it.  Real live UC Davis scientists understand that  “vegetation buffers can remove as much as 98 percent of E. coli from surface water”, but the perception of safety is more important than actual safety.  News flash:  we’ve been growing food in the dirt for a very very long time.  Did you ever notice that food safety issues seem to be happening more now than they ever did?

“In 16 years of handling nearly every major food-borne illness outbreak in America, I can tell you I’ve never had a case where it’s been linked to a farmers’ market,” Marler said.

Farming isn’t the problem.  Sustainable farming definately isn’t the problem.  Gigantic companies that can afford the occasional customer drop off here, in the name of saving some cash there, are.  (Which do YOU think is more dangerous: a container of poison, or a toad?) Instead of buying your food from companies that are trying to kill you, or that think that scorched-earth practices are a good idea, visit the farmer’s market.  The businesses there are small enough to know the value of a healthy customer.  Or better yet,  grow your own.  The dirt won’t hurt you, I promise.

(just remember to wash your food!)


July 14, 2009 at 11:20 pm 1 comment

July Bounty

Eating seasonally at this time of year is amazing.  Just when you think you can’t stand another salad (a staple since April), wonderful new things come up to make it better. Last night’s garden bounty:  spinach, beet greens, and Genovese basil with green onions, and the last of the peas, plus feta, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  French Breakfast radishes and the first of the beets– the white one is a Chiogga, which is very sweet (when it matures more, it’s supposed to have a bull’s-eye pattern).


Plus, it’s strawberry season of course.  That means jam.

We combined recipes to make strawberry rhubarb ginger jam:

1 lb rhubarb, cut into pieces and cooked in hot (not boiling) water until soft
2 1/2 cups crushed strawberries
6 1/2 cups sugar (nik: “is jam a way of preserving food, or flavouring sugar?”)
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 pack pectin

-make sure you drain your rhubarb well, or your jam will have too much liquid, and not set.  Stir in the strawberries, ginger, and sugar.  Heat, stirring constantly, until it boils.  Boil for 1 minute, then add lime juice and pectin, stir for another minute, seal in hot jars and process.

Strawberry_rhubarb_ginger jamand canned strawberries.  You’ve never heard of canned strawberries have you?  Neither had I, but found the recipe on a hunch.  This is an example of bad canning:  the head space (the air space on top) is too big in the large jar, but these won’t be around long enough for the extra air to be a problem.  The reason that the fruit floats on top is because I processed them too long.  That doesn’t change how safe it is, but it certainly won’t impress anyone.


July 6, 2009 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

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