Should dogs prance around produce?

 While America’s farmers of fresh produce try to figure out what is a good agricultural practice (GAP) and how best to limit animal incursions, the first dog gets a portrait in the midst of the presidential garden.

Retailers expect farmers to have some control over deer crapping on strawberries or apples and killing people, so maybe it’s not a bright idea to promote pooches in the garden.

I look forward to a full discussion of microbial food safety risks and fresh produce in Michelle Obama’s upcoming book, Grown: How the White House Kitchen Garden Inspires Families, Schools, and Communities, announced today by the Crown Publishing Group. Beleaguered cantaloupe farmers may also appreciate some First guidance on allowable animal incursions.

bites and barfblog: we help the next generation ask the right questions, and teach some writing basics

barfblogger and second-year Kansas State veterinary student Michelle Mazur stars in a Dec. 3/09 story from the American Veterinary Medical Association which calls “ one of the sickest (and funniest) sites about food safety.”

Mazur said she stumbled into her job after a food microbiology class she took as an undergrad at Kansas State. She started as a news puller for and now she’s been writing for the blog for about a year, covering issues related to her veterinary-school studies like Brucellosis, her summer job on Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the dangers of salmonella on pet turtles, and even about therapy animals.

“The world has really opened up for me, writing for Just pulling news for Doug for six months I learned so much. It exposed me to so much news, and it’s a great college job. I can start work at 4 a.m. after my studies.

“I’ve learned that there are ways we can improve food safety in this country. Those who produce must produce properly, and those that consume must consume properly.”

If you like what we are doing, please take the time to make a tax-deductible contribution to bites or barfblog by clicking on the DONATE button at either or

Michelle Obama promotes fresh produce; how about microbiologically safe produce?

The New York Times continues the fascination with all things Obama this morning as it reports on First Lady Michelle’s focus on fresh produce.

“You know, we want to make sure our guests here and across the nation are eating nutritious items. Collect some fruits and vegetables; bring by some good healthy food. We can provide this kind of healthy food for communities across the country, and we can do it by each of us lending a hand.”

In a speech at the Department of Agriculture last month, Mrs. Obama described herself as “a big believer” in community gardens that provide “fresh fruits and vegetables for so many communities across this nation and world.”

I am too. Brought the seedlings in yesterday as a temporary cold snap hit Kansas, but the greens and asparagus will soon be sprouting from the family garden. I also know fresh produce is also the biggest source of foodborne illness today in the U.S. That’s because it’s fresh, and anything that comes into contact has the potential to contaminate.

So, yeah Michelle, promote the produce, but organic and local do not mean safe. Play up those producers who responsibly manage microbial risks. And if you’re going to put your kids dining habits front and center, you really don’t want them barfing.

Kristen Schaal, otherwise known as Mel from Flight of the Conchords, offered her take on First Lady Michelle last night on the Daily Show.