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Tomatoes are a scapegoat

Vincent Yates, Vail

The Food and Drug Administration’s hunt for sources of the recent salmonella outbreak reminds me of the antics of the comical Inspector Clusoe of Pink Panther fame. First, they traced it to tomatoes, inflicting $250 million in frivolous damages on that harmless industry. Then it was the jalapeno peppers. Now it’s the serrano peppers. In prior years, they blamed lettuce and spinach. Yet, most students of Biology 101 know that salmonella enteritidis is an intestinal organism, and most produce are just not endowed with intestines.

The actual source of salmonella are the intestines of billions of animals raised for food each year in the U.S. Their feces, with their nasty guests, invariably end up in our lakes, rivers, streams and, most pertinently, in the irrigation water used to grow otherwise healthful produce.

The ultimate solution to salmonella food poisoning and a host of chronic killer diseases associated with meat consumption is to gradually wean ourselves away from the meat habit. In the meantime, state agriculture departments could make sure that factory farms, their feces, and the streams that carry them are kept far away from fields that grow people food, including, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and yes, even serrano peppers.


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