Asking questions about fresh produce

For the past 10 years, when someone asks me, what can I do avoid Salmonella in tomatoes, or E. coli in spinach, especially if you – Powell – tell me I can’t wash it off, what am I supposed to do?

I would sheepishly say, ask questions. Big grocers; local markets; they should be able to explain what they do to reduce microbial risks.

But it’s not so easy. I’ve asked questions for years, and only rarely have received adequate responses. Most are of the it’s-local-it’s-safe or trust-me genre of food pornography, and, like most pornography, it’s fun to watch for awhile but gets really boring.

Chris, a student who works with me at Kansas State, went to the student union the other day and ordered a bean and cheese burrito.

“They slapped some pico de gallo on there for me. The previous day they had a sign that said they weren’t serving due to Salmonella tomatoes.

“I took it back and asked what made them start serving fresh tomatoes again. Not one of the 4 employees spoke English. All they would say is ‘yes, tomatoes.’”

Buying any sort of fresh produce is an act of faith. I say, cut the BS and start deliberately marketing food safety. That way, someone has to back it up; not some dance with an auditor or certifier, or some other third party that has nothing to do with credibility and everything to do with providing distance when the shit hits the fan – or the produce.

Otherwise, more hucksterism, and more of CNN’s Lou Dobbs.