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Stating the Obvious

It turns out that the E. Coli outbreak in Europe has its origins in an organic farm in Germany. I have no gripes with organic farms until proponents make up all kinds of stories about how much healthier they are or how much better for the environment they are. But if people want to consume fruits and vegetables that are not grown with certain fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and use only certain kinds of biomass (trawled ocean protein – that sounds sustainable!) then that is fine.

But could anyone imagine the uproar had the E. Coli. strain come from huge U.S. agribusiness? Not only would the evil mega-farms likely have their executives hauled into Congress, I’d get dizzy from reading the OpEds about how America has been for too long a deregulated free market paradise just like Somalia. Of course Germany, like us, has an FDA. And no one expects the regulatory authorities to catch all of these things. But I encourage you to keep a keen eye out for the types of criticisms you hear about EU agriculture policy as compared to what would occur had this incident occurred here.

7 Responses to “Stating the Obvious”

  1. Sherlock says:

    My girlfriend is always trying to get me to eat organic foods because, “they are so much healthier,” she says. I always joke to just give me “genetically modified with a side of pesticide.” Now I can add, “without the E. Coli, please.”

  2. Harry says:

    Whether you are a pure organic grower or not, it’s desirable to amend the soil with manure, but you plow it or disc it in, normally. But it is replete with e coli. That’s why you wash your hands after cleaning out the barn, before you pick tomatoes and raspberries.

    Were we not all taught to wash vegetables when in doubt about how they were picked?

  3. Sherlock says:

    Harry- I’ll be honest that I’m not versed in E. Coli and how it specifically contaminates produce. But I’m wondering, simply washing a vegetable removes the E.Coli?

  4. Harry says:

    Sherlock, great question, and the answer may be beyond my expertise.

    It is my understanding e coli is present in the digestive tracts of animals, like cows and you and me. That is the reason why you see the sign in the restroom admonishing employees to wash their hands with soap and hot water. My guess is that it kills or removes enough of the bacteria, though the cleanup is not the same your surgeon would use before cutting.

    How that German farm sent out dirty vegetables is anybody’s guess, and for all we know they may be innocent. I am sure the German solution will be to enact laws that employ stern German government inspectors.

    I also understand that e coli has many strains, some of which are lethal.

    Wintercow is absolutely correct about the firestorm that would erupt here. We have already had many hamburger events. I am not so sure I would not grill myself a medium-rare hamburger without knowing who ground it.

  5. […] most recent nasty and virulent E. coli outbreak in Europe? As of this writing it appears to be from organic […]

  6. Rod says:

    There are many different strains of e coli, some of which human beings have resistance to.

    Our county has its own health department, and because they are greatly over-staffed and have a lot of time on their hands, a while back they decided to persecute some family friends of ours, the Rothenbergers, who own Merrymead Farm, a dairy farm and jug milk store in Worcester, PA.

    Merrymead had a “petting zoo” featuring the recently-born calves that were housed outside the farm’s milking barn in separate “calf hutches.” Visitors to the store could take their kids over to pet the calves (Mommy! Mommy! Can we pet the calves? Please? Please?). When a group of kids from a local elementary school were there on a field trip, one of the kids who had petted the calves apparently did not wash her hands before she put her fingers in her mouth, and she became sick. The county health department, always alert to public health hazards, rushed to the scene and discovered that there was holstein manure all over the place. They summarily shut the farm’s store down for two weeks as they investigated the situation.

    The irony here was that the Rothenbergers’ farm is and was a very clean operation in every detail. While some dairy farms have manure everywhere, Merrymead’s barns and feed lots are cleaned out regularly, and the cows and calves themselves are not plastered with manure on their rear ends. The baby calves in question were also clean by all dairy farming standards. The problem is that city kids don’t have any background immunity to calf manure, so if those city kids don’t wash their hands before eating (Didn’t they read a book in school about racoons washing their paws and food before eating [ever smell a raccoon?]) they might get sick.

    Merrymead also sells its surplus milk and cream to Land O’ Lakes and has received numerous awards for milk quality (bacteria counts, leukocyte counts, etc.). Any way you want to measure it, Merrymead is a slick operation.

    If elected county commissioner, I will abolish the health department. I have other horror stories to tell about these bureaucrats, but I will save them for future posts.

  7. Harry says:

    I do not want to beat this subject to death, but there is another angle here: cobalt sterilizers kill germs; the radiation beats the germs to death.

    My first experience with a cobalt sterilizer was in Sherman, Texas, at a J&J manufacturing plant. Everything that could not be sterilized by gas and steam went on a conveyor that went over a radioactive source. Everything that came out of there was sterile, good enough to not contaminate your body when the surgeon cut into it.

    The second sterilizer I know is about three miles from where I sit, in a warehouse operated by a company in the grocery business. You would not believe all the money spent on lawyers, expert witnesses, etc., etc., to get that thing approved, largely over scientific ignorance and fear fed by the progressive anti-nuclear lobby. But it was approved by the Lords of the township. It was like Yucca Mountain.

    That sterilizer does German bean sprouts and anything deemed questionable.

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