"Millions of pounds of ready-to-eat slaads and premade food items at several big-name retailers such as Harris Teeter, Kroger, Whole Foods, 7-Eleven, Trader Joe's and Walmart have been recalled due to the potential risk of listeria and salmonella contamination." So read the headlines in yesterday's USA TODAY.
This latest catastrophe was in leafy greens. Amazingly, ask the average person where the big risk to food-borne bacterial illness occurs, and she'll say "factory farmed animals." In fact, that is not the case. Roughly 90 percent of all tainted food is leafy greens.
While this is not a defense of factory farms, it is an indictment of ignorance and perceptions. Nobody, and I mean nobody, should buy leafy greens from the supermarket. They are far more fragile than even factory meat and poultry. I can hear the backlash from such a strong statement.
Fortunately, leafy greens are the easiest thing to grow in your house or a season-extending cold frame, solarium, or hoop house. They love cool weather and have a fast turnover. They don't require lots of space to grow significant volumes. Nothing in the food system is as conducive to personal production as leafy greens, unless you include sprouts.
This latest recall was all processed leafy greens into ready-to-eat foods. Notice the broad range of supermarkets carrying this. All this material came out of one vendor:
Bakkover. Isn't it amazing how all these different retailers have essentially the same item, including Whole Paycheck, also known as Whole Foods? Where's the difference in the marketplace?
This is the real tragedy of our country's food police. It stymies real innovation in the food marketplace by making it hard for differentiation to occur. When everything must be pushed through the same licensing, compliance and protocols, the opportunity to bring all of us something really different is more difficult. This recall was in the most heavily regulated segment of our food system: ready-to-eat. And it all carried a nice bold "Government Approved" sticker. Folks, don't buy any ready-to-eat industrial food; period.
When is the last time you heard about tainted food at the Farmer's Market, or from your garden? Industrialization of food is risky, and different types of food bear more risk than others. The most risky one is leafy greens.
Do you have a 5 ft. X 2 ft. space where you could grow your own leafy greens? This is about the footprint of a refrigerator. An entertainment center. A dog kennel. An easy chair. How about it?