Friday, June 20, 2008

Tomatoes and factory farms

marjorie says...

(I thought I would repost a commentary I did for the NMI over here. Maggie, I want to see your food commentary next!)

Being mindful of one's food is probably a learned trait. For myself, I find that I take much of my food for granted, like most Americans probably. I have a pretty simple, routine vegetarian diet that I don't give a whole lot of thought to. So it was odd to be stopped dead in my tracks at lunch yesterday, gazing down in consternation at my leafy green salad covered in tomatoes. Could I trust the restaurant owners to know if the tomatoes were safe?

Tomatoes are one of my favorite things in the universe. Fresh off the vine, stewed in a thick sauce, or stuffed and baked...they're kind of a vegetarian staple. Tomatoes and spinach together are simply sublime. So imagine the blow to my 20-year vegetarian induced sense of complacency in the wake of the salmonella outbreak this past month.

When bagged spinach disappeared from the grocery stores last year, I railed and ranted about factory farms. With the recent tomato crisis I'm more shell-shocked than anything. In my simple mind, as a vegetarian I'm supposed to be safe from salmonella and e-coli bacterial foodborne illnesses so long as I follow proper food handling procedures.

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