Is This at All True?

L.A. (Canoga Park), CA(Zone 10a)

Is any of this true? http://talk.newagtalk.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=112839&mid=799367#M799367

There is so much misinformation, disinformation, sensationalization, fear-mongering, spin-doctoring, and deliberate lies out there from all sides, I am skeptical of anything. I figure those of you in farming would know what really is going on.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Are people going to quit eating ?
How dumb is this!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Here is a less inflammatory summary of the bill...
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2749&tab=summary

The full text can be viewed by clicking on the relevant tab in the right hand margin.

Needless to say, I didn't read the full text, and I find the original article posted strays into fear-mongering.

However, that being said, some of these practices are already in effect, as large buyers (Darden Restaurants, etc) have established farmer contract standards that do include eliminating reptiles and amphibians from the fields on the unfounded possibility of them carrying E. coli, destruction of hedgerows and bordering forests to reduce bird droppings and possible contamination of the crop, more extensive deterrent strategies to minimize avian fly-overs, and virtual DMZ bare earth borders around fields to decrease wildlife nearby... I first read about these strategies in the Wall Street Journal, a fairly reliable publication in most respects. The article also emphasized that there was little to no science behind these measures to justify the enormous environmental impact they have.

Whether this particular bill is adopting these same strategies, or the article is merely mistakenly combining what is becoming industry standard with legislation to get folks all 'het-up', I don't know. I do know I was shocked and disgusted with what I read in the WSJ.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

There wouldn't be all this fuss if everybody ate a little dirt now & then. Good bacteria can't live on clean.
Grab a carrot straight out of the good earth, brush it off & east it. You will not die!
Cut a nice fresh watermelon out in the field with your pocket knife, You will not die!
Beans, tomatoes, & cucumbers right off the vine, you wouldn't believe how good!

What is better for you ? A bunch of chemicals dumped on things or a few footprints from a little innocent bug ?

Think about it, this whole thing is stupid!

Rankin, IL(Zone 5a)

AMEN COuntryGArdens, we should send you to capital hill.. LOL

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

No thanks!

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

I read the summary that Jay posted and I also read the comments from members of the site the first link came from. Apparently the person who did the original post has a reputation for the dramatic.

First of all, It's pretty close to impossible to touch any wetland in most of the US. They are heartily protected. As Bernie said, sterilization is what has gotten us into this fix to begin with. People are losing their natural immunities to common bacteria because they are eradicating them from their surroundings. I'm not advocating slovenliness, but perhaps if there were fewer people concerned about using antibacterial cleaners on EVERYTHING, there would be a bit less of a problem.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Isn't the E. coli that is problematic a result of CAFO practices, confinement of cattle and feeding high grain diets to them which change the pH of the rumen, making it more acidic and selecting for a more lethal strain of E. coli?

And now it's gotten around and can probably be found in the guts of a lot of common livestock? And humans? And probably other mammals, but they haven't yet demonstrated that toads, lizards, and snakes carry it.

Are they starting to improve and enforce bathroom facilities for the field hands sufficient to prevent human fecal contamination of the crops? Are there sufficient hand washing stations in the field?

Also, haven't most of the contaminated foods come from processing facilities that aren't sufficiently inspected or overseen? Where a single 'dirty' contaminated load of lettuce or tomatoes or jalapenos will be washed with several other clean loads, thus contaminating them? Then there's the peanut butter recall, where no one ever inspected the crawl spaces over the processing equipment and when they did they found them full of pigeons and their droppings (that one turned my stomach, thank you).

So it seems to me the more appropriate approach is... a feed regimen for cattle that doesn't mess with the pH of the gut. Improved facilities and enforcement of hygiene in field and plant. More rigorous inspection of the processing plants and more frequent testing of their product. Individual batch processing, so a contaminated field may be quickly targeted, rather than every farmer in the 6 county area being wiped out.

And accepting a degree of risk in life... I agree with Bernie on that. =0) Zero tolerance for pain, risk, hardship, illness and death is getting us into some real problems as a society.

I mean, really... Life, no one's survived it yet.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

"Zero tolerance for pain, risk, hardship, illness and death is getting us into some real problems as a society." And that's the truth.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Our field workers have to be provided a toilet. A truck brings them around, they include a hand washing station built in. No one enforces that it's used though. Since most of our crop is orchards, what's to keep them from going behind a tree?
I noticed if they drop the citrus on the ground, they don't pick it up.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I've seen it suggested that more facilities and closer to the harvesting area... still additional expense, but cheaper than trying to eliminate wildlife from the field?

Do you have gleaners come through for the fallen/dropped fruit?

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

The gleaners would be "us." We still can't get everything. I hate to see so much go to waste. Our friends come help us. We take picking bags and ATVs and take a row at a time then give the fruit away. I have a couple of friends that distribute it to poor families that wouldn't otherwise have fresh fruit. They do the same thing with our extra melons.
I always tell them to be sure and wash the fruit before they cut it.
Some citrus we wash and take to the farmer's market, but with all the other crops we're harvesting I don't always have time. Citrus keeps longer if it's not washed. This year there was so much left. Lots of blemished fruit caused by Dolly, then the harvest was delayed because Ag Dept found a bug in an orchard about half a mile away and quarantined everything in the area till it was declared "clean."

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I agree, I hate to see things go to waste. Is there a homeless pantry or soup kitchen that might be able to organize some volunteers to glean? I've got friends who call the local soup kitchen when their apple trees are loaded, after they've picked all they want...

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

They will take them here, if I pick them, wash them and deliver them. The same with the excess melons and other produce we grow.

Sundance, WY(Zone 3b)

OMG! This isn't just ridiculous, this is borderline stupidity on our government's part. And to think, my DH and I were picking radishes out of our garden, washing them in the birdbath, and then eating them. Wonder how many diseases we are going to die from now!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Hmmmm... I'd say about 6.
LOL
Our garden is 12' from the donkey's corral, fertilized with the donkey manure, grazing grounds to toads and lizards...
See you on the other side!

Ah, Calla... like you've got the time and energy. Shame they apparently don't have the volunteers. Oh well... you've obviously looked into it, it's just not very practical. What a weird world we live in, good food left to rot because no one will come get it. {{shaking head}}

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I carry a trusty pocket knife. It has never been sterilized. (A while back, I scraped some dried glue off the blade.) It cuts veggies just great to munch while in the garden. My most valuable tool.
They preach having insurance at the market. I've been marketing for 24 years & never heard of anyone filing any kind of claim. Should be selling that insurance!
Bernie

Hughesville, MO(Zone 5a)

Sadly most of the legislators who wheld such power over food production in this country and others have never gardened or farmed. Hence they are so removed from reality and so open to radical unfounded 'research' results that they do nothing but harm those they claim to be helping.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Kelli, some of the "sterile field" requirements are happening at some of the farms up here, mostly in the Salinas Valley which is a major lettuce and leafy green growing area. It's been really hard to see the changes in some of the farms. Berms that used to be planted with native wildflowers for beneficial insects and erosion control have been stripped bare. Trees have been taken down. Lord only knows what else has been done.

It isn't the federal government mandating these changes - it's the large corporate agribusiness chains making the demands. Companies like Chiquita (and their brand Fresh Express) have multi-year contracts with many of the growers in the region. They have issued these truly stupid mandates to the growers and are refusing to buy the produce if these steps aren't taken. I'm worried that the growers who are destroying parts of their farms to save their contracts & income will now have erosion problems when the winter rains start. This will most likely result in environmental and water contamination fines.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I hope the whole works erodes away! These stupid farmers are as much to blame as anyone else. If they would hold their ground, these big outfits wouldn't have so much power.
But farmers are greedy. It happened here in central MN back in the 30's. They took down all the windbreaks to get more land in production. It got so bad with sand blowing around, they had to plow it off the streets in the towns like snow. Needless to say all went broke!
Bernie

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

I agree with you Bernie in many ways except I don't want to see the erosion. It will hurt the other growers and water users downstream, many of whom *are* holding their ground.

L.A. (Canoga Park), CA(Zone 10a)

Do any of you know of a list of companies that make these demands, so we can stop buying from them?

Hughesville, MO(Zone 5a)

I agree, Kelli. Let's boycott them and write letters demanding they stop such stupidity. As a farm wife( not here to farm any longer)I am aware of the power of the big agri businesses.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I'm more grateful every day for my little piece of dirt. Our ag industry is an abomination is many ways and I've already begun my protest by growing everything I can think of that's feasible to feed me and my soil.

It's gotten to the point that we have to research everything to death to make sure we aren't supporting something harmful to us or the planet because those whose job it is are asleep at the switch (to put it nicely).

Hughesville, MO(Zone 5a)

Amen, Twiggy. I am shocked our forefathers ever survived. They got dirty, ate both veggies and meat that was cut up with the same knife on the same board without being washed in between, food sometimes sat on the kitchen table all afternoon or evening and people just came by and ate what they wanted when they came home, (much like picnics), everything wasn't sterilized before a baby could touch it, dirty diapers were washed out in a bucket or stool of water with bare hands and then washed to be reused, etc. Over cleanliness is one of the biggest causes of low immunity in this country.

L.A. (Canoga Park), CA(Zone 10a)

I'm just glad that I was a kid before bicycle helmets were invented (and mandatory). I'm sure they have done a lot of good, but I'm glad I didn't have to wear one.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Leaflady I wouldn't volunteer to go back to those days but a little backtracking might be in order.

If somebody had told them that a bird couldn't fly over a field or a coon couldn't get in the corn, they would have assumed they were "afflicted" and rightly so.

If somebody had told them that people would wet down their crops with powerful poison that started out as a way to kill people in a world war and then they'd eat those crops.......

If somebody had told them that people would raise 10 pigs in the space that they used for 2 and that they never in their whole lives got to touch the ground......

On and on. I think they'd have a bunch of names for us and none of them would be good.


Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

So besides Chiquita, I know that Darden Restaurants is also requiring 'sterile field' contracts. You may not recognize that name, but it's the largest restaurant corp in the world, owning Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, The Capital Grille (!!! isn't that where all our legislators eat?), and Seasons 52, among others.

Their website...
http://www.darden.com/

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Interesting. I think I will write letters to all these organizations and let them know that although I appreciate their attempts to improve food safety, I strongly object to the destruction of farms and surrounding environment caused by this short sighted and dangerous concept of "sterile fields". I will let them know that I am not willing to eat or buy any produce from these so called "sterile fields" nor eat in any restaurant that serves this type of food. I will also discourage everyone I who comes within conversational distance from frequenting these restaurants or buying this type of produce. If they want our business, they will need to encourage healthy soil rich in healthy soil microbes and biodiversity on the farm.

Hmmm, guess I'd better send a copy of my letter to all my respresentatives too. If they receive enough objections, hopefully they will stop this nonsense.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We have Olive Garden & Red Lobster here. I hate both of them, so won't be a problem not going there!

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

I don't really go there either unless my colleagues want to have an office lunch there. Now I have an even better reason to ask that we chose one of the local independent resaurants.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Here's my kind of place. We were on a weekend outing & stopped at this place in downtown Red Wing, MN for breakfast. Place was full, food was fabulous!
Bernie

Thumbnail by CountryGardens
Goldthwaite, TX(Zone 8a)

Bernie,
I too have one of those miracle tools called a pocket knife, which has been used for everything from emergency surgery on livestock to trimming plants to cutting up lunch in the truck, and has never even been washed, much less sterilized. I do try to wipe the old grease off before putting it the pocket to keep peace in the family laundry!!
Robert

southeast, NE

I'm a believer of buying local, including eating at the local mom & pop type cafes.

Could someone point out to me where the Darden Inc. requires sterile fields? I don't see anything on their website. Or possibly I'm looking in the wrong place?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Definitely! The best meals I've had out have been a local, family run type restaurants. It's been so sad to see all the new strip malls with only nationwide franchise restaurants in them. Some areas seem to only have chain restaurants. It can be challenging to find the local ones when traveling.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Nebraska, it's not on their website. I read about their requirements in a Wall Street Journal article last year. They are not alone in this, they're only the company that I remember (because my Dad's name is Darden) and I happen to like Olive Garden and I found the practices appalling (?).

I'm sorry I don't remember the date of the article, but it was one of their 'color' articles on the bottom of the front page. There was even an aerial photo of a river bank before and after the trees and shrubs were removed to reduce birds near a field. The Wall Street Journal isn't known for its conservationist bent, and even they pointed out there is no science to support this practice.

I wonder if someone like Nature Conservancy, WWP or the Sierra Club might know more about this... at least what companies are requiring their contractors to take such extreme measures.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Again, I'm surprised that the state hasn't weighed in. In New York, there would be h--l to pay if you disrupted a filter strip between fields and river.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Kathleen, I'm surprised at that too. California also has very strict environmental regulations about these types of things. I'm not sure how the this is being pushed through, yet it is definitely taking place and creating some eyesores. It's an even bigger disaster in the making when the rains come. We'll have enough erosion in the areas wiped clean by fire, which will also cause flooding downstream as the drainage ditches and arroyos silt up. We don't need to add to the problem. *sigh*

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Perhaps getting in touch with the DEC would be in order. Here, there is a right to farm law that I think also covers corporations asking for extreme measures as well as neighbors complaining about normal farming practices. I know I would find it hard to knuckle under to that particular thinking, but then we're just small fry.

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