Innocent Spinach Farmers

To me, the discussion over “local versus national distribution” or “organic versus agri-business farming practices” are secondary discussions in the post Spinach/E.Coli outbreak.

The big question on my mind is thus:

Why is it that the FDA felt they had to ban our country’s entire crop of Spinach when it is clear now that the outbreak came from one source (Natural Selection Foods LLC of San Juan Bautista, California)?

Why is it that spinach growers in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and any other farm not located in San Juan Bautista have to face an economic hardship in light of this outbreak? The FDA’s response to this outbreak was a direct result of the ignorance foisted upon themselves by their own lack of regulation and oversight.

From the article:

The swiftness with which their spinach businesses were turned upside-down has startled growers. Perry Bowen, who farms about 180 acres of Savoy spinach at River Farm in Virginia’s King George County, was having dinner in Pennsylvania with Verdelli and other growers on the night the spinach warning came down from the FDA.

“We were having a great time,” Bowen said. “We were talking about having a good fall crop. We were bucking each other up.”

Bowen had left his cellphone in his car. When he finished dinner, he walked across the street, got in his car, and saw he had eight voice-mail messages from family members, business associates and friends — asking if he had heard the news.

“You talk about going from the top of the world to the bottom in 100 feet of asphalt,” he said, adding: “I’ve got a house under construction. I bought my neighbor’s farm. My whole world is built around this business, and because of something that happened in California it is all disappearing.”

This story should resonate upon anyone who farms outside of the the mega-agri-businesses. There’s little to no process in place to protect farms that have nothing to do with disease outbreaks.

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