And what I yam is late to the spinach uproar. I feel really, really sorry for those parents who thought they were doing the right thing, feeding their children healthy spinach greens like they had been told to, and then had to watch those children fight for life and sometimes lose. But this is yet another manifestation of the parlous state of industrial food. If you treat food like just another industrial commodity you are going to have quality control issues. Whether it is batteries bursting into fire or little children dying of kidney failure, that’s the price you pay for a system that can never, ever, be 100% safe. I’m horrified, too, that anyone would even think to blame organic production as such. As Rebecca points out, by linking to two very informative posts, organic production standards in the US specifically prohibit the use of animal manure on products destined for sale within 120 days. It is conventional farmers who are free to use raw animal manure, if they can be bothered.

The problem is not organics or conventional or low-input or anything of the sort. The problem is scale. If you truck spinach in from scores of farms around the state to a bagging plant, and then truck the bags out again to hundreds of stores around the states, you are creating a system that spreads contamination. Exactly like the slaughterhouses and meat-packing plants that spread contamination. The solution is not virus-based sprays to combat bacteria, or ever more complex legislation. The solution is to scale back; buy locally, know where and how your food is produced. Just because a bag says “Natural Selections” does not mean its content are either natural or select.

Just how much does “convenience” have to cost before people decide it isn’t worth paying the price?

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