A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Consumer Alert: Tomatoes

Panicking about raw tomatoes? Relax.

Sure, there was that foofaraw in the papers and TV over the past few days, allowing as how all kinds of people were turning their toes up to the heavens and keeling over thanks to the ingestion of raw tomato products contaminated with a relatively uncommon strain of salmonella. The Florida tomato growers wept and beat their collective breast, claiming that their industry was in "complete collapse," their families homeless, their children unfed and deity alone knows what other blather-am-skate.

It was alleged that 40 people had fallen ill in Texas and New Mexico after ingesting raw tomatoes, and some 17 subsequently had been hospitalized. An additional 30 individuals in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Illinois and Indiana had also suffered illness resulting from the same strain of Salmonella saintpaulia. It was, at that time, unknown whether raw tomatoes were implicated in these additional illnesses. Roughly four people in each of those states. Hardly deserving of panic mode, don't you think?

One person &mdash an elderly Texan &mdash did die as a result of the infection. So, fellow old farts, what lesson can we draw from this? Old farts shouldn't take risks with their food? Hey, you're gonna die anyway, why not choose to go as a result of a memorable caprese salad or a nice salsa? OK, the symptoms aren't exactly delightful, but you'll be dead so you won't have to clean up, right?

In any event, the CBC now tells us that tomatoes from the states of Florida and California are not implicated in the recent illnesses. These tomatoes are safe to eat:

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Grape tomatoes

  • Home-grown tomatoes

  • Tomatoes with part of the vine still attached

  • Tomatoes from California or Florida

  • Cooked tomatoes of any shape or form
So you Florida growers can quit your weeping and wailing and go back to gouging your poor workers (who had to fight for years to get a penny per lb. increase in their wages) and the public. As for the rest of us, this is yet another excellent reason to buy local, preferably organically grown.

In fact, today we learned that farmers have to pay stores to keep their products on the store shelves. (Yeah, yeah, we're hardly as well-informed or as smart as we like to think). So, really, the best way to buy would be direct from the farm. It's time to eliminate the middle-schlub. Instead of paying big corporations obscene amounts of money to rape the land and destroy the air we breathe and the water we drink, how about shopping at farmer's markets?

The farm bills that Congress signs are the worst offenders in draining the resources of small farmers and polluting the quality of the nation's food supply. There is a program available called Community Supported Agriculture\ that tries to get conumers directly in touch with farmers. It sounds like an excellent idea. Much better than being poisoned by tomatoes schlepped from Mexico (which are the current suspects in the salmonella scandal) at high cost of fuel and under, probably, appalling labour conditions.

We're off to examine our options. Eat the damn salsa, already.

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At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the FDA loves to play roulette on our poor selves..
I joined a local CSA after i realized that i had to look out for myself since no one else was...

Thanks for blogging about this and nice blog


At 9:38 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Thankyew! I'm looking into local CSAs, although I'm lucky to live in an area that has always had tons of farmer's markets within easy bus/drive distance, and my local groceries all feature high-quality organic produce grown within a 50-mile range.

Gads, am I lucky.

I added you to my blogroll, checked your (interesting!) blog, and would be pleased if you'd add me to yours.

Thanks for visiting, nice to make a new friend! As Lizzy sez, this social networking stuff is way cool!


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