The beautiful thing about this time of the year is undoubtedly the fresh produce available, especially from farmer’s markets and roadside stands. What could be better than buying local, fresh produce right from the farmer that grew it?
Of course, that makes people at the FDA and other government agencies a little nervous. If it isn’t packaged, who knows what terrors may be lurking in the food! Such is the sentiment from this news station, which decided to highlight the dangers of buying produce at open air markets. Reportedly, this danger comes from researchers:
Purdue experts also noted that conditions at farmers markets pose unique food safety risks since products are sold outdoors where they’re exposed to dirt, insects and other potential contaminants.
Look, I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious here (although sometimes that and a little common sense is exactly what we need), but aren’t we missing a pretty obvious point?
Produce is grown outside…in the dirt…and exposed to insects and other “contaminants.” I understand we need to be more careful with meat and farm products that can spoil, but I’m not sure where this concern about being outside with dirt comes from.
The idea that dirt is dirty is found throughout the FDA’s recommendations for melons, too. We know melon rinds can be difficult to clean once contaminated, but the FDA goes far enough to suggest melon-soil contact should be minimized. In a moment of enlightenment, the recommendations let us know: “Melons frequently directly contact soil during growth and development.”
The FDA also wants farmers to evaluate the soil in the fields and find ways to minimize the soil from getting wet where the plants are growing.
Look, we’ve been growing produce in the ground for quite a long time (since we’ve been growing food, probably). While some suggestions for reducing potential sources of contamination are helpful and common sense, this hysteria about food safety is getting out of control. At what point do we just start growing our food in science labs?
Eliminating dirt and considering it a “contaminant” is ridiculous. It is also completely out of touch with how food is actually grown on our family farms. And, normally, we don’t have massive outbreaks of food borne illnesses simply because we grow our food in the dirt. If that was case, human beings would not have lasted until this point.
Besides, do we really want to envision a future where it is considered “dangerous” for our food to be grown naturally?
Just in case you are concerned, the news station has a list of other safety concerns and how to avoid them. My favorite is making sure the person at the farm market is “neat and clean.” Please, don’t go pick that produce from the dirt and then try to sell it with dirt on your clothes! It’s better to pretend there was no dirt involved at all.
No wonder people from the city have no idea how food is grown.