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You'll have to forgive me if I take this personally.

Three recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses traced to bagged spinach or lettuce from California have led some scientists and food safety advocates to suggest that packaging greens might contribute to the spread of a lethal strain of E. coli bacteria.

In particular, the centralized processing of fresh greens can increase the risk of more widespread contamination, just as tainted beef from one steer can find its way into hundreds of packages of ground meat, said Dr. David W.K. Acheson, chief medical officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Do they know for absolute certain it was E. coli that caused me the greatest physical suffering of my life?  No, not for absolute certain.  And whatever the contaminant, it was complicated by undiagnosed gluten intolerance.  But still, I do sit up and take notice, and I do want, no, demand serious food safety precautions.

On March 17, 2000 I drove from Massachusetts to New Jersey.  Along the way I stopped at Wendy's.  When I got to New Jersey, I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday with friends.  Then, because it was St. Patrick's day, I went out for a beer with a friend.  By the time we got to the bar I felt sick.  I left not long after.  By midnight, I was violently ill.  By 2 AM I would have said it took all my strength to reach the phone and call for a car to bring me to the campus health center.  Except that when I got up and made my way down the stairs to get out to the car, it redefined my idea of how much strength I could summon.  I passed out briefly two or three times between my bedroom and the front door.  Passed out where no matter how hard I fought, darkness flashing with swirling spotty lights closed around my field of vision and my extremities were numb and burning at the same time and I felt myself falling backwards away from the door I knew I had to reach to get help, the door I dragged myself out by the handle and left unlocked because I had no choice.  I had to choose between putting on shoes and getting to the door, so I went to the infirmary in socks, and came home in them 2 days later.

The nurse at the infirmary couldn't find a vein to put me on IV fluids.  She couldn't take my blood pressure sitting upright because I could not sit upright for long enough.  The ambulance came for me not long after.

In the ambulance, they got an IV in my arm, though not ideally placed.  It ended up infiltrating and my hand grew painful and puffy and cold as the fluid soaked the tissue rather than going into the vein.  At the emergency room, they covered me in sensors and discovered that when they propped me into a semi-sitting position, my heart raced and I lost coherence.  They made noises about pumping my stomach since I'd been puking red without sufficient explanation for why that might be, but they didn't do it.

They released me around 30 hours later, after administering fluids and cipro through IV, with cipro pills.  Two weeks later, at a follow-up visit, the gastroenterologist told me the dehydration had been so severe I could have suffered heart failure.

So, yeah, my own experience having been aggravated by gluten intolerance or not, I take the threat of E. coli pretty fucking seriously.

But both lettuce and spinach destined for packaging generally are trucked to centralized processing plants, where tainted and untainted leaves can be mixed during chopping, washing and bagging. By contrast, greens that are not bagged are not chopped up and mingled.

...snip...

The bagged greens industry has consolidated so much that a single contamination problem can threaten the entire industry, said Timothy York, chief executive officer of Markon Cooperative Inc., a Salinas-based produce purchaser for food service distributors. According to the Produce Marketing Assn., nearly 90% of the retail market for packaged salads is controlled by only two companies: Dole Fresh Vegetables and Fresh Express.

We can't wash our own lettuce - it's just too difficult.  We have to buy it chopped and bagged and if people die, well, that was an accident.  And consolidation of ownership - that's the free market, baby.  Gotta love it.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:35 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I guess this is the night we throw a rock at Tom. (33+ / 0-)

    Tom Friedman is an evangelist for Capitalism like many preachers are for their brand of Christianity. He is always extolling the virtues of free markets, and that was the underlying reason behind his support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    But this is where his model of lassiez-faire capitalism breaks down. Presumably, markets are supposed to weed out the makers who do not sufficiently take care of the lettuce so that it does not have e coli. But as you point out, we have only two choices left. And how are we supposed to know if the lettuce or spinach we buy at the store is safe or not?

    The answer is that we can't. And thus, we need a government that will regulate these things effectively and that will take outbreaks of e coli very seriously.

  •  transient workers (12+ / 0-)

    with no place to wash could have a little something to do with this, perhaps if the farmers were able to pay real wages, their workers would be able to wash themselves from time to time.

    And it's funny that most of the beaches in America are contaminated with EColi but nobody seems to give a damn.

    DAGGER 24 hour news service...your post could make news!

    by lightnessofbeing on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:46:13 PM PST

    •  problem for lakes and creeks too n/t (5+ / 0-)

      (-7.88, -6.10) Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore/It's already overcrowed from your dirty little war

      by Nulwee on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:50:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Chicago and Lake Michigan (7+ / 0-)

      Every summer the lake is closed because of E Coli contamination. They miraculously re-open it for the triathlon in August. At the pre-tri meeting, someone asked, "What about the E Coli?" The race director said, "There's so much gasoline in the harbor it'll kill all of the bacteria."

      Yum.

      •  Also Lake St. Clair (7+ / 0-)

        Lake St. Clair is the lake between the Detroit River and the St. Clair River (which connects it with Lake Huron.  Every summer now for about six or seven years most of the big beaches are closed for days or weeks.  Since this area has more recreational boat owners than anywhere in the country, sport fishing is a big deal, and us Michiganders love our lakes, it's been a real shock to people.  The problem is that the drain water that pollutes the lake after major rainstorms comes from municipal sewer systems that will cost billions to repair, and the money doesn't arrive in sufficient amounts to do much besides triage on the biggest problems, so the beach closings and contaminations will probably remain a fact of life for a long time to come.

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:12:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  In Cleveland In the 60's They Fenced off Edgewate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hoolia, lightnessofbeing

        beach and chlorinated it.

        Then they shipped the entire economy to China.

        Problem solved!!

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:14:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wild pigs may actually be to blame (5+ / 0-)

      WASHINGTON Oct 27, 2006 (AP)— After a month without any reports of illness from tainted spinach, health officials say the deadly outbreak of bacteria that killed three people and sickened more than 200 others nationally appears to be over.

      Investigators also have linked the fatal strain of E. coli to wild pigs that may have spread the bacteria by trampling fences surrounding a spinach field in California.

      [snip]

      Samples taken from a wild pig, as well as from stream water and cattle on the ranch, have tested positive for the same strain of E. coli implicated in the outbreak, Reilly said in a conference call with reporters.

      [snip]

      Wild pigs are one "real clear vehicle" that could explain how E. coli spread from cattle on the ranch to the spinach field less than a mile away, Reilly said. The pigs could have tracked the bacteria into the field or spread it through their droppings, he said.(link)

      Nightline had an interesting piece (transcript and video available for a fee) about wild pigs/boars.  As best I can recall, the critters have no natural predators, are fast and strong, and now roam nearly all of our states, though a few years ago they were in only a few.

      You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. --Eric Hoffer

      by xicara on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:10:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would suspect this is not the cause of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cookiebear, begone

      problem. This sounds like improper storage, and contamination by a waste stream, not contact by individual employees on the farm in the handling process.

      In MissLaura's case, I'd wager it was improper food handling at Wendys or RTs that caused her troubles.

  •  Woah, that sounds (4+ / 0-)

    like a really terrible experience you went through.  Sorry to hear about it, and hope you're back to 100%!

    ~ The improbable is possible ~

    by Benjaminwise on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:46:37 PM PST

  •  As someone who eats (6+ / 0-)

    a huge bag of fresh spinach every week, I sympathize with your plight.

    But damnit all, I do love my raw spinach, and missed it while it was gone.  Although the mustard greens made a tasty substitute.

    Could I buy and wash my own?  Probably.  I have in the past.

  •  I get my lettuce and spinach from our (12+ / 0-)

    local CSA farm. Food safety starts with buying local produce. I eat what is in season.

  •  MissLaura, what is gluten intolerance? (4+ / 0-)

    I have a really weird allergy that is making me miserable. If I eat any white flour, my tongue and my lips will burn like crazy for several days. I can eat wheat flour but not white. Almost all spices except garlic also do this and sometimes beer.

    These food allergies suck don't they? This has been going on for three years and I can't even eat one bite of pizza.

    As for lettuce, I wash mine pretty thoroughly before eating after watching a TV segment about how nasty it is.

    •  Gluten is a protein (8+ / 0-)

      found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Intolerance to it is actually an autoimmune condition, not an allergy, and basically causes the destruction of the absorptive surfaces of the small intestine.  It's difficult to diagnose because it's a multi-system disorder with a wide range of possible symptoms.

      If you have problems with white but not wheat flour, it could be something in the processing?  I know some people can have gluten but there's something about the processing and/or bleaching of flour that gets them...

    •  recommend you see a doctor about this stat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tabbycat in tenn

      and not screw around with our Fristian {no doubt good natured and well intentioned to be sure} attempts to diagnose this.

      That sounds like more than allergies to me.

      •  shpilk, I really think it's an allergy... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        2lucky

        I have had four sinus surgeries and for several years I practically lived on antibiotics. That was when this first started happening. Kind of like a yeast infection in my mouth with lots of burning. It gradually started happening with flour and now it is constant. I haven't eaten anything with flour for several years. I never knew so many things have white flour in them until this. My face will also turn red and get hot but I don't have any problems breathing or swallowing so I think it's just a weird allergy.

        •  There is a gluten-related (2+ / 0-)

          skin condition, too...but I agree with shpilk you might want to get it checked out if you have access to medical care at all.

        •  possibly something to do with the processing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tabbycat in tenn

          sensitivity to formaldehyde maybe?  just a quess, I'm no doctor and maybe you should see one...there are simple scratch tests an allergist can do to find out

          "Unfortunately Obama's been ladened with a name that causes all kinda problems" - TDS's Aasif Mandvi

          by kittania on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:38:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have chronic sinusitis and take usually (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tabbycat in tenn

          twice a year a run of antibiotics when it gets unbearable .. I have never had surgery for this.

          I had taken Avelox, a fluouroquinolone based drug a few times before with no reaction. Recently the doc prescribed a blast of it, and I had a serious reaction; not serious enough to be hospitalized, just an incredible rash and swelling .. and terrible itching.

          Diphenhydramine {aka Benadryl} stopped it, but now I suspect I can no longer take fluoroquinolone based antibiotics.

          I am not going to recommend you take Benadryl, unless you talk to your doctor, but if you are having an allergic reaction, Benadryl should help.

          I am not a doctor, but I suspect you may have a fungal infection which is aggravating some other underlying reaction {perhaps an allergy} to certain foods. Antibiotics and Benadryl will NOT help, and can make things more complicated.

          •  Avelox (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tabbycat in tenn

            I'm taking it right now.  I've been sick for two weeks, and it became clear to me Thursday morning it was a serious sinus infection.  Luckily I was able to get in to see a doctor that afternoon, and he gave me a sample in the office and a perscription for six more.  They're damn expensive; almost $70 for just six tablets.  But it's knocked the hell out of the infection, and I'm finally feeling better.  Since I'm good for a hell of a sinus infection about every other year, and this drug seemed to work really well, I'm disappointed to hear about those side effects.  

            The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

            by Dana Houle on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:44:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Side effects or allergy? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tabbycat in tenn

              Could be an allergy on shpilk's part?  In which case you might ultimately develop it, of course - I can't take bactrim for my sinus infections anymore for that very reason - but it's not a foregone conclusion.

            •  well, it worked for me 3 or 4 times previously (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tabbycat in tenn

              and then .. boom!

              Something changed in my internal ecology. Maybe eating too much Avelox fed beef or something.

              The other thing I get on is prednisone, which takes that sinusitis {aggravated by nasal polyps, which post mortem studies show at least 15% of all people have btw} and the polyps right out. Prednisone is nasty, and docs will refuse to recommend it for continual use. I have a hard enough time getting a Medpak {tapering dose over 4 to 6 days} 3 or 4 times a year.

          •  lol, I had the exact same reaction to Avelox. (0+ / 0-)

            I took it several times with no problems and then wham! I broke out all over and nearly itched to death. I called the Dr. and he said take Benadryl. If my mouth/tongue get really bad, I dilute Benadryl in water and hold it in my mouth and it does help some.

            I've done a lot of reading about my weird reations and I think it is fungal also. Just not sure what to do about it. Be careful taking too many antibiotics because I am positive that started this problem for me. I wash my sinuses thoroughly every night and have avoided any surgeries and severe infections so far.

            I am so impressed that you can spell generic Benadryl. :)

            •  my SO has a degree in biochem, my brother (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tabbycat in tenn

              pre-med, works in the pharma industry.

              I took some low level pre-med stuff in college ... it sort of sinks in and it never leaves ..

              Antifungal drugs have to be very specific to work properly in most cases, so you need to have a culture taken for best effect.

              But the types of reactions you are having, especially near the throat worry me. See a doctor, you don't want to get into a situation where you need to have a tracheotomy because you cannot breathe due to a reaction .. I did, when I was a baby.

              Too young to remember it, but my mother's description to this day curls my hair.

      •  Exactly. Food Sensitivity Awareness Has Come (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MissLaura, tabbycat in tenn

        a long way.

        I have, and I've known, many people with wheat or gluten issues, and never heard of it extending to spices.

        Get tested and live comfortably. Continuing to irritate a sensitivity can make it progressively worse. Bee stings, foods, epoxies, anything.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:27:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What an ordeal. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cookiebear, tabbycat in tenn, begone

    I got food poisoning after eating pineapple-cheese pancakes in Amsterdam the day before taking the ferry back to England, and another time eating eggnog ice cream in Long Island.  But I never had to go into a doctor's office in socks.

    Ground beef, packaged greens... what is the slimy stuff on cut and peeled carrots anyway?

    If only media consolidation made us feel physically ill too, we'd have a larger movement against it.

  •  What an awful experience! (4+ / 0-)

    I got plain old food poisoning in college, and I'll never forget how miserable it was.

    I'm cutting out fast food restaurants, period.  But, I'm also really leery of the produce in the market.  After the last e-coli incident, I've switched to frozen veggies for cooking.

    I'm looking into a home garden (although with my black thumb, it could be worse.)

    A success that hasn't occured yet.

    by 2lucky on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:53:39 PM PST

  •  I got it from ice cream in 2005. (6+ / 0-)

    It was the worst experience of my life.  12 days of being in and out of the emergency room.  I was constantly passing out from dehydration.  I can't even think about ice cream now without feeling sick.

  •  Confession time (4+ / 0-)

    There's a bag of Fresh Express salad in my fridge as I type...and there would be spinach too, but I cooked it in potatoes earlier tonight.  :-P

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 08:57:47 PM PST

  •  bagged or not (6+ / 0-)

    you still gotta worry about greens at the chain restaurants where food is processed centrally.

    same issue as with bagging, but unlikely that they will start buying local instead of having food prepared at a central facility.

    there really shouldn't be e. coli (an intestinal bacteria) on plants (which don't have intestines), bagged, centralized, chopped, or not.  that's a problem.

    •  In short (11+ / 0-)

      There should not be SHIT in my food.

      •  well, yes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tabbycat in tenn, begone, kath25

        if you want to put it that way.

        although as george carlin famously observed, the health department does explicitly set what are the acceptable levels of rat droppings, (something something) and insect parts in restaurant food.

      •  Well then (0+ / 0-)

        consider the friends of mine who said something similar. They went farmer, having made money in the pre-2000 software/internet industry and having some income from writing. Not intending to go commerecial to start with, just "wholesome food for us"

        I helped them out their first spring and summer, spending a lot of time there.  I was there for their first harvest of thinnings from the greens.  They were just a bit surprised at finding several slugs, a half dozen earwigs, silverfish, and millipends, as well as mouse and bird droppings in their nice, clean, organic harvest.

        If you grow it outside, uncovered, it's going to have a chance to have shit on it. Tough to clean on any scale larger than the home garden, that's why you should wash veggies yourself.

        If you think it's bad in the US, try the developing world, where a lot of farming is still done on small farms. I've had ... interesting things show up in food, even prepared food (and none of the locals was bothered by such)

        •  Washing, yes. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cookiebear, Annalize5, sldulin

          But E Coli clings too tightly to be washed off, apparently.

          E Coli isn't supposed to be in cow poop anyways -- its presence is a result of cows being fed unnatural foods. This apparently creates the chance of the cows having E Coli in their tracts.

          •  it was that it was in the water supply (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MissLaura, cookiebear, ybruti, kath25

            -- the e coli -- and it got taken up into the cells of the spinach. Washing wouldn't do any good because you can only wash the surface.

            It may also be that the surfaces of cut greens are so rough that bacteria don't get rinsed off, or just that the deadly strain of e coli is so problematic that even the slightest bit causes illness. </wild speculation> But the thing last summer with the spinach had to do with the water supply.

            It's the Sausage Grinder of Snark: the Daily Show/Colbert Report spoiler (and chat) thread, Live at 11.

            by TiaRachel on Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 01:45:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Ouch - Can't Be Too Careful With Food (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cookiebear, tabbycat in tenn

    Reminds me of the Taco Bell incident not too long ago. I was wary. Yet, I digested leafy greens soon after. This story makes me cautious again. Gotta cut up my own salad.

    Tis the beginning. Promote integrity.

    by Vot3 on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:00:49 PM PST

  •  All the more reason... (6+ / 0-)

    ..to buy locally, or if that is not possible, to buy the loose leaf spinach, and (shudder!) wash it ourselves!
     I have tried the breathe air downwind from a commercial hog farm.  I don't recommend it.  The huge load manure boggles my mind, and then add to that the bacteria that have been raised on antibiotics, and you end up with super-bugs that eat ciprofloxacin (and now levofloxacin and moxifloxacin for lunch).  And those are the bugs getting into ground water and irrigation canals...
     I'll stop my rant now.  I think I'll go build a cold frame to start raising my own spinach...

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by drchelo on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:02:19 PM PST

  •  I cant find the links (0+ / 0-)

    Someone did some kind of investigation and found that all the tainted vegatables had a connection to farms that werent playing ball with a paticular corporation.  they were suggesting that the stuff was intentionally spoiled.

  •  something i've been thinking about ... (9+ / 0-)

    ... over the past few weeks during my recent conversion to vegetarianism ...

    i've been making a lot of Indian food because it's just so tasty

    and it's very common for vegetables in Indian cooking to seem overcooked to the American palate - at least the fashionable ones, esp. the raw food faddists.

    the explanation I've read for this is that the food is overcooked to kill nasty bacteria and microbes and amoebae.

    now, think about southern food in America and much so-called "country" food --- overcooked veggies again. and these overcooked veggies are generally being made in rural areas, or their genesis was in rural areas, which are commonly agricultural, meaning the inhabitants are often much closer to the hazards of foods than urban inhabitants.

    so maybe, despite the scorn heaped on all our grandparents and their overcooked veggies and all those ruralites and their overcooked veggies and etc ...

    maybe they were onto something all along?

    btw, this is why i oppose the corporatization of our food supply - buy local and make your own!

    Cornbread is square, but pi are round.

    by cookiebear on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:10:47 PM PST

    •  Most Common Item Found in Frontier & Colonial (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cookiebear

      trash is stomach cures, according to a program I saw some years ago. Generally strong alcohol.

      Having had an upper gi infection undiagnosed for 8 years, I can see why, it seemed to moderate the symptoms though of course not a cure.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:22:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A friend asked me once, since Chinese food (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cookiebear, CSI Bentonville

      focuses so much on fresh and seasonal, why we never developed a salad course. I reminded him that in China, human waste, pig-poo etc. is recycled as fertilizer. He got very quiet after that.

  •  Got really sick off of bagged lettuce. (3+ / 0-)

    Never got to the point of thinking about going to the hospital, but it was painful and miserable. Flushed myself with water and managed to induce vomiting within a couple fo hours. Felt like crap but the symptons resided.

    No more bagged veggies for me.

    Don't fuck with my ch'i.

    by Han Solo on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:16:53 PM PST

  •  Eating meat might be bad for you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tabbycat in tenn, begone

    but eating bushes seems to be deadly.  I guess I start my Air Diet tomorrow.

    My reality check bounced.

    by Grannus on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:18:34 PM PST

  •  Rinse Everything Fresh In Vinegar (6+ / 0-)

    I have wheat intolerance too and undiagnosed for 25 years, time to give a lot of insult to the gut, so I'm sensitive to food contamination.

    We started doing the vinegar rinse to all seafood, poultry and raw veggies, and our incidence of tummy upset went near to zero.

    Martha Stewart had a segment some years ago with Good Housekeeping who said white vinegar tested == household bleach for disinfectant value.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:20:49 PM PST

  •  Devil's Advocate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, elie

    I refuse to feel guilty for enjoying the convenience of bagged lettuce. If the bagged vegetable companies are being sloppy and making people sick, they're responsible, and should be prosecuted.  I'm even more-than-willing to entertain the possibility that irradiation could solve the problem--so long as the food doesn't turn to mush.

  •  A lot of people depend upon fast food and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cookiebear, begone

    restaurants, but the bottom line is {and my family ran a deli for ten years} none of the restaurant business is mandatory.

    I'm not saying we should all stop going to restaurants, but more than once recently I have said 'rather than go out, let's go buy something special to make at home' .. it's a lot cheaper, the company is better, the surroundings are comfortable.

    Of course, when you are on the road, or out of town .. not much choice unless you want to start packing a pic-a-nic basket!

    •  YEars ago I saw an older couple (4+ / 0-)

      at a rest area, eating from a picnic basket, pot of home-brewed coffee by their side.  It looked so peaceful, tasty and cheap!

      And when I think of it, most times I've eaten at any kind of restaurant this past year were a big disappointment. Nobody serves homemade hamburgers anymore, or much of anything, in fact.  We're supposed to be happy with prefab stuff made with cheap ingredients and tasting every bit that way.

      I wonder what foreign visitors think of American food.  I've never been courageous enough to ask.

    •  my husband always prefers the special meal be (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, begone

      pripared at home. He says we cook better than the restaurant. That extends to seafood, steaks, ribs.. everything.

      When we go out it's because I just don't want to mess around in the kitchen, but it's hard to find a restaurant that caters to tasty lower fat food. the salads are great, but not low fat. Recently, I failed my lipid test, so I'm pretty much off any fast food. I haven't had a hamburger since last fall. We're getting better at making stuff at home.

      From what I understand about the lettuce and spinach thing is that the e. coli got inside the lettuce (it came up through the roots of the plant. No amount of vinigar or washing is going to make that go away. The only help is to make sure the livestock is down stream from the produce fields.

      •  good grief (0+ / 0-)

        the lettuce and spinach thing is that the e. coli got inside the lettuce (it came up through the roots of the plant.

        Can you cite a source?

        That sounds almost like it's not possible, unless groundwater is severely contaminated. Usually there are other bacteria present in the earth which neutralize e. coli from being taken up by the plants.

        •  Sorry, it was the spinach not the lettuce (0+ / 0-)

          Washing the spinach didn't help as the e. coli was within the spinach leaves. I'm sorry this is a USA today source, but I think I saw it on MSNBC too.

          Here's one about lettuce.

          I got this information by talking with a couple friends who run a city farms here in Davie, Florida. They told me then have to be careful to make sure they spread manure down stream from the food fields. I didn't pay a lot of attention to it. We were at a party and farming and party talk....

  •  never eat bagged veggies (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    begone, Mary Mike, quadmom

    ever!

    © 2006 "certain thoughts are prayers. there are moments when, whatever the attitude of the body may be, the soul is on its knees." -victor hugo

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:38:01 PM PST

    •  I was just at the store and all I could find were (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Turkana, begone

      bagged veggies. I could find broccoli stalks and cauliflower, but the lettuce and greens were all bagged.

      The Whole Foods Market is almost an hour from our house and our local markets have put in huge organic sections. I only go there once a month.

      •  go for the broccoli and cauliflower! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Annalize5, begone

        i'm serious- i never eat bagged veggies, anymore. just not worth the risk.

        © 2006 "certain thoughts are prayers. there are moments when, whatever the attitude of the body may be, the soul is on its knees." -victor hugo

        by Laurence Lewis on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:46:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't either... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Turkana, CSI Bentonville

          i'm serious- i never eat bagged veggies, anymore. just not worth the risk.

          Even before the e-coli hysteria, I had a weird feeling about bagged salad greens. Unless the whole bag was used at once, I noticed a smell, I attributed it to a preservative, maybe something they use to extend the shelf life. I buy romaine and/or bib lettuce and wash it myself. I'm still afraid to mess with even fresh spinach and I miss it too.

          Fresh squash is good too. :) and yeah, I do the brocolli and cauliflower thing too.

          •  living in california (0+ / 0-)

            i have access to such great organic produce- make salads with romaine, red leaf green leaf, red butter, green butter, plus whatever other veggies are organic, at the time. i agree about the smell of bagged produce- something chemically.

            © 2006 "certain thoughts are prayers. there are moments when, whatever the attitude of the body may be, the soul is on its knees." -victor hugo

            by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 01:45:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Wow--all of them? That sucks. More space is given (0+ / 0-)

        to the bagged ones every day here, but they are also giving
        an eensy bit of space to organic greens.

        It is never too late to be what you might have been...George Eliot

        by begone on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:51:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  sounds like a good idea (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Turkana

      No more bags for my family!
      Thanks for the info about the mixing at a central source. That was new to me.

  •  Back to washing my own salad greens, sigh (4+ / 0-)

    after doing a la la la la fingers plugging ears routine, despite
    reading OrangeCloud's diaries.

    At least now it will be vinegar, thanks to Gooserock.

    Miss Laura, thanks for bringing the lesson home. A daughter
    suffered horrible food poisoning in Paris a few years ago--
    at the mercy of her hotel, her one time in Paris, to take care
    of her. The symptoms accompanied her for her time in Ireland.

    I sure wish Hawaii had more trustworthy local markets. These
    days, too many greens & veggies at the open markets have been
    purchased at Costco and UNpackaged for the market. Whole
    Foods is being built here, in all its pricey glory (and you can bet
    it will cost way more here)--built next to a hifalootin' high rise
    with all kinds of parking problems. Still, it's something. So is
    the one market that claims its dealers don't do the Costco
    thing.

    It is never too late to be what you might have been...George Eliot

    by begone on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 09:49:46 PM PST

  •  How much of this shit is being served at your (0+ / 0-)

    favorite restaurant.  I'll have to ask them the next time I visit.  I'm sure Ronald will be amused.

  •  Was sitting in a lovely new restaurant today... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tabbycat in tenn, Annalize5

    Wood-burning oven.  Sit at a counter and watch the flames -- and the bustling, highly skilled chefs make your food.  Beautiful salads, tossed in a light sheen of dressing that glistens in the firelight.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

    Guy rolls up a cart of fresh supplies and begins filling bins.  Plastic bags -- sealed by a supplier, not by someone washing greens in the kitchen -- arugala, mixed baby greens, spinach.  Rip.  Dump in bins.  Rip.  Dump in bins.  The swift salad-maker grabs and makes her magic.  Beautiful salads, bam, bam, bam.

    A year ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about ordering anything that didn't spend a good deal of time in that roaring oven and go directly on a plate without a spell on a counter in that well-run kitchen.  But now?  Hey, it was a lovely day.  I didn't want to spend any of it spewing up my guts, so...

    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 11:04:38 PM PST

  •  question for someone with smarts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MissLaura

    anyone know what temps kill e.coli? i used to think frozen foods would be safe from it. And you can't kill it by simmering?

  •  Was this confirmed as E. coli? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    Just curious, because some things you offered reminded me of the more severe impacts to some folks when a Salmonella outbreak hit our school cafeteria, once.

    Those were awful symptoms, regardless.

    So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

    by wader on Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 12:36:11 AM PST

  •  My own theory? (0+ / 0-)

    I've been searching the press for this, as "experts" look for the cause. I know that in my own states, the conditions in which migrant workers live are abyssmal. I wonder if the septic systems in the regions of the fields are so bad that the agri-companies are polluting their own crops?

    This is something that the government would never admit--would never prosecute those big donors. So instead we blame the neighboring pigs? Just a theory. (Scuse me now, have to iron the tinfoil on my hat.)

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