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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bagged villain

I realize that the suspected E. coli outbreak is actually quite serious, but this is such a hilarious sentence for an official to utter at a press conference:

“At this point, there is nothing to implicate bagged salad.”

My mental picture is bagged salad sweating under the interrogation lights. "You look nervous...you made those people sick, didn't you?" "No, no, I swear I'm innocent! This sweat...it's just condensation, I've been in the fridge!"

6 comments:

lj said...

I just overheard something about this at lunch (the TV in the cafe downstairs is usually tuned to CNN), and was thinking about you and your spinach-raisin salads.

I like the image of a big finger pointing accusatorily (?) at a bag of spinach.

teague said...

...and then it just wilts under the pressure.

lj said...

Oh, Teague....oh.....oh......

lj said...

This NYT op-ed piece is very interesting. It rests the blame on the cattle industry practice of feeding cows grain instead of grass. So really the problem goes back to corn, as so many of our food-chain problems do. At least that's the way it seems, the more I learn: corn is a big problem.

teague said...

Wow, that is really interesting. Lots of cool facts packed into one piece. That the USDA is paying 75% of the cost of making huge lagoons of manure waterproof is both disgusting and outrageous -- it's like me creating a toxic waste dump in my yard, and the city paying the cost of containing it. Also, it's pretty amazing that e.coli danger could be reduced that much just by having cattle graze for a short time before slaughter. Of course, I think it'd be a lot better for the cows and us if we just let them graze all the time.

It does indeed seem like corn is a big problem. I guess it's such a huge portion of what's grown on US farms that it can't help but have a distortionary effect across a lot of different areas.

lj said...

From what I understand, feeding cattle corn began with corn farmers at some point when the price of corn fell and they went looking for something more lucrative to do with their crop. They (maybe it was some middleman organization, not farmers themselves, I don't know) came up with feedlots. Similar story with why corn syrup is in almost all prepared food. I also saw a piece this last year with a photo of a huge pile of corn sitting in the open air in Iowa--the crop had been so huge that they didn't have enough space to store it (this was happening all over, not just in one place).

So we subsidize, breed, fertilize, etc until we have more corn than we know what to do with, and then invent unhealth ways of consuming it, all the while screwing up the market for farmers in developing worlds. I admit I need to read more to make sure I have all my facts straight, but this is the picture that's emerging to me.

Man, check out the second letter in response to that NYT piece: organic farming is to blame. Very interesting, if grossly biased, point. I think it goes well with the first letter, which points out that even vegetarians aren't same from meat-based threats. Perhaps organic farming is at risk of contamination, because it's not willing to fight back with equally powerful chemicals? Weird.