What the Spinach Outbreak Shows Us About Our Food

I’m sure at this point, everyone is already well aware of the E. coli outbreak associated with bagged spinach. To recap, though, over 100 people in at least 19 states have been sickened; one person has died. As a result, the FDA has advised us not to eat spinach lest we become infected.

Nineteen states—almost half the nation. That’s the problem with our nationalized, mono-cropped system of producing food. Instead of thinking about food as nutrition, food as sustenance, food as a part of the natural environment; we tend to think of food as a commodity. Thus, massive quantities of a single crop are planted over vast swaths of land, prompted to grow in such an arrangement through the addition of synthetic sources of nutrients that have been stripped from the soil through misuse. Cows, pigs, and chickens are raised in factory-like environments, packed so closely together and/or fed such an unnatural diet that they must be fed a constant stream of antibiotics to maintain their health; plus, their growth is also fueled by the addition of synthetic growth hormones.

These situations aren’t natural. What’s called “conventionally grown” is a perversion of agriculture that has more to do with chemistry than “a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.” My friend Cortney was kind enough to lend me her copy of The Nation from a couple of weeks ago: an issue that was all about food and where it comes from. The date on the cover is September 11; it’s probably the only magazine dated as such that doesn’t deal with the prospect of large explosions caused by the actions of angry men who view our nation as the great satan. It’s probably also the only magazine dated as such that deals with the most likely threat to our nation’s security: our overtaxed and potentially increasingly unreliable food supply.

3 Responses to “What the Spinach Outbreak Shows Us About Our Food”

  1. kari Says:

    this reminds me very much of the green onion hep c outbreak when I lived in the burgh. michelle and I were approached by a news crew outside of giant eagle when we went grocery shopping and they asked us for our opinions. when we started to get into what this truly shows about our food sources and by the way, how about opening a dialogue about homeland security at HOME, the reporter thanked us quickly and walked away.

    I hadn’t heard before, but I heard on the radio today that the strain of e. coli is a special, super acid resistant strain that grows in the bellies of cows that are grain fed on feed lots. another reason to go grass-fed!

  2. Rebekah Says:

    Actually, to me, this says to never eat any vegetables. Which is why I am fine.

  3. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Spinach Update Says:

    [...] No need to repeat myself on my opinion of the implications of this thing, but I do recommend that you take a look at this map of where the illnesses have occurred and see for yourself how ridiculous it is that in a nation where there’s farmland from coast to coast, we’re shipping truckloads of spinach across the country. [...]

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