I'm in Auckland right now on my way to Australia and while I wait between planes, it gives me time to catch up on important things that come across my desk. Just when you think you've heard the most outrageous condescension toward farmers, along comes another one that makes all the others seem minor. Here is a copy of a letter send to food vendors at the Bernalillo dated March 14.
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A primarily affecting adults who use injection drugs and are experiencing homelessness in Bernalillo County. Hepatitis A is easily transmitted by consuming food or beverages handled by infected persons. As such, every ill food worker situation could present a significant risk of infection to large numbers of people.
In response to this ongoing outbreak, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department is asking for your help to prevent possible outbreaks in your food establishment by taking the following steps:
o Ensure each food worker understands the associated symptoms, transmission, and, illness notification requirements for hepatitis A.
o Ensure each food worker follows safe food handling practices.
o Ensure that food handlers are washing their hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds immediately before preparing foods; before putting on disposable gloves to start working with food; before dispensing or serving food; handling clean tableware and serving utensils in the food service area, and after using the restroom.
Hepatitis A is a reportable disease. Anyone who has been in contact with a person who has had a confirmed hepatitis A diagnosis should notify the NMDOH at (505) 84t-4116 to discuss their risk. If a food worker hasany of the symptoms of hepatitis A, please inform them NOT TO GO TO WORK ( and visit a medical provider for testing. It may be possible for vaccination to be given to other employees and consumers who may have been exposed to hepatitis A by a sick food worker. Illness can be prevented in those exposed, but only if they receive treatment within 14 days of exposure, so timely reporting of illness is vital to prevent additional infections.
In order to request immediate health advisories, we encourage all facilities to contact Bernalillo County Health Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have general questions about hepatitis A and foodservice, please contact the Bernalillo County Health Protection staff at (505) 301-0310. For additional information on hepatitis A, please visit: https ://nmhealth. org/about/phd/idb/trip/
Thank you for your attention. Bernalillo County Health Protection
Following this, here is the directive sent to every farmer's market vendor:
Attached is a health notification from the Bernalillo County health department regarding an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. In the event that you've never received this vaccine you need to get vaccinated. If you have been vaccinated in the past you'll need a blood test to verify your current immunity.
I am recommending that ALL vendors get vaccinated against Hep A. It is HIGHLY Contagious and extremely difficult to eradicate. If you do NOT get vaccinated and become a vector for Hep A you will be BANNED from ALL Future Markets. Period! Hep A symptoms can range from asymptomatic to hospitalization and possible death, so this is nothing to brush off and disregard.
If you have any questions please call the number listed for County Health 505 301-0310.
The result of this, of course, is mandatory vaccination for all farmers' market vendors, as if the food they bring to market is in contact with feces from homeless people or they spend the night under the bridge with no bathroom facilities. How would you like to be a professional farmer and receive an order like this, lumping you in with society's most disease-prone and disease-facilitating.
This is not a post about homelessness. It is not a post about bad people. It's a post about condescending bureaucrats and a society that is not outraged by tyranny and bad science. Not only has no farmers' market food been implicated as unsafe, to my knowledge no farmer has been deemed unsafe or unsanitary. Furthermore, to assume that farmers bringing their food to market take no more thought for its safety than workers at the Burger King across the road is, again, disrespectful and outrageous.
At a time when we should be honoring farmers as heroes--especially the ones who feed their own communities and attend farmers' markets, here we are treating them like trash. The assumption that vaccines are the cure for everything and that food from farmers is inherently suspect underlies this orthodoxy.
Now who thinks more government agencies will help us?