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.: September 2006 --> Two farmers talk about organic spinach growing and harvesting

Two farmers talk about organic spinach growing and harvesting

» Andy Griffin, the former owner of Riverside Farms, one of the spinach growers implicated in the recent E.coli breakout, has written a very informative post on spinach harvesting and why he got out of the baby greens business. (via mn)

Every sealed bag of pre-washed greens is like a little green house. The greens inside are still alive, as are the bacteria living on them. If the produce in the bag is clean, great, but if it isn’t the bacteria present has a wonderful little sealed environment to reproduce in, free from any threat until the dressing splashes down and the shadow of a fork passes over. Frankly, I think convenience is overrated.

And my most recent CSA newsletter has a bit to say about organic spinach growing practices.

Many media outlets, and so-called experts, have failed to understand the details of this event. [...] [T]hey have tried to make a connection between organic produce and animal manure, a potential source of E.coli. Fact: It is a violation of federal law, the National Organic Standards Act, to use raw animal manures on a crop that will be harvested within 120 days of application of the manure. No organic farmers are using raw animal manures on their spinach fields anymore, if they ever did. It  is far more likely that a conventional farmer would use raw manures —there are no regulations prohibiting the practice for anyone other than organic farmers. The FDA never insinuated this connection; they are intimately familiar with the organics law.

 [ 09.22.06 ]


Thanks for your post. I hear people actually blaming organic farming techniques for this outbreak, and I'm looking for solid facts to dispute them. The comment about the bagged greens being little greenhouses is terrific - I never would have thought of that.

The New York Times has a nice adjunct to this: the strain of E. Coli that has caused the illnesses and death is "not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage." It, instead, "thrives in a new — that is, recent in the history of animal diets — biological niche: the unnaturally acidic stomachs of beef and dairy cattle fed on grain, the typical ration on most industrial farms." And, there is a simple remedy for it.

The entire article is here:



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