Friday, October 13, 2006

Vindication for Leafy Greens

In general, plants aren't the favorite hang-out spot for dangerous food-borne pathogens like E. coli or BSE. I'm not a fancy clipboard-toting scientist in a white lab coat, so I can't tell you why exactly bacteria would rather set up camp in a lump of meat than on a carrot, but why question success? Being a vegan has seemingly shielded me forever from most iterations of food poisoning, barring a sloppy restaurant chef cross-contaminating my benign broccholi with some uncooked chicken breasts. In fact, every instance of veggie-based food pathogens I've read about was ultimately the result of that plant coming in contact with an animal product.

That's what makes Spinachgate so frustrating for me. A food I love, a food the vegetarian community can rely on, contaminated fresh from the farm!

And that's why this makes me feel more at ease:
Samples of cattle manure on pastures surrounding a spinach field have tested positive for the same strain of E. coli bacteria that killed at least three people and sickened nearly 200 others -- the first direct evidence linking a Salinas Valley farm to the outbreak that has spanned 26 states and one Canadian province.
I'm certainly not happy that people have suffered because of this contamination. But if the speculation that nearby cattle farms are responsible for the E. coli outbreak prove true, I hope this will be another wake up call that modern large-scale cattle farming causes more problems than are immediately obvious.

1 comment:

Thinker said...

In case you haven't seen it, you'll probably want to look at Michael Pollan's piece in this weekend's NY Times Magazine.