After just catching up with Tuesday's Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper, I am sitting here doing deep breathing exercises to control my frustration.
The headline on the front page of Tuesday's Local section read:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
The article, written by staff writer Pam Greene, begins:
Don't eat any spinach from a garden. Don't eat any spinach from local growers. Don't eat any fresh spinach--period. That's the message that Onondaga County Health Commissioner Cynthia Morrow and FDA emphasized Monday.
I read on, waiting for the punch line...but there was none.
Apparently on Sunday the FDA had increased the spinach recall to include all fresh spinach--not just the prepackaged kind. Somehow I missed that.
I hardly know where to begin. Well how about here: why would I trust the FDA to tell me not to eat the spinach growing behind my house that I've been lovingly tending throughout the growing season? I'm just trying to operate with a little common sense here. I understand that the known facts were few earlier this week, but why would I worry about locally grown spinach (if we could get it at this time of year) when there wasn't any evidence of people getting sick from locally or garden grown spinach? And while I appreciate Pam Greene's reporting of the warning, she would have done well to flesh out the information a little more. I want to know WHY my garden spinach should not be eaten?
Now of course, we are in a different place then we were Sunday or even Tuesday, and have a better understanding of the source of the E.coli problem--I'm still waiting for the big headline telling me it's okay to eat MY spinach.
Okay, I'm being a bit cheeky here but I hope you get my point.
As an aside, allow me to mention that yesterday's Post-Standard Business section led with a story that Few Farmers in CNY Grow Spinach; Crop Has Shrunk. Now I don't know those statistics but it is interesting that Bobbie Harrison from the Cornell Cooperative Extension is quoted as saying, that so few grow spinach locally that he couldn't name a single farmer who planted the crop. I can and it's not my job to know. A cursory search on the Local Harvest site reveals several farms in our area growing spinach--I believe our beloved Green Rabbit is one of them. But I digress.
This whole spinach episode is a case of the worst kind of fear-mongering. It is not helpful to tell folks not to let local spinach touch their lips without giving solid reasoning. A few sentences explaining the connection between California-produced bagged spinach and the local CNY soil based spinach crop would have done us a great service. And if that connection can't be made DON'T TELL ME NOT TO EAT THE FOOD I GROW!
Furthermore, if the FDA really wants to protect the public from possibly tainted food, it might begin by putting appropriate warning lables on the industrial agriculture/factory-produced poultry and meat, and pesticide laden produce that pass for groceries in most supermarkets. THAT would be doing the public a favor.
Okay--I'm putting away my soapbox now.
Also, check out the great letter Stefanie from Couteau Bonswan wrote to the local media.