Cucumbers, Tomatoes and E. Coli – Oh My

Latest reports are that the recent European outbreak of E. Coli is a highly infectious and toxic new strain of the bacteria. Officials are still not sure exactly where the bacteria originated, but there seems to be a strong link between having the disease symptoms, and eating raw vegetables in Germany. Those traveling to Germany are advised to avoid eating tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy salads. So far seventeen people have died, and thousands more have become sick from the bacteria. My heart goes out to all those affected. Being sick from food poisoning is no laughing matter, and dying from it is truly tragic.

This is an example of something I’ve been saying for quite some time now: our food system is pretty much broken. Safety can’t be assured anymore. And with the globalization of our supply chain, it has become increasingly difficult to track the source of these food borne disease outbreaks. Our commercial food is shipped from all over the world, and handled countless times.

To me this is yet another reason to grow our own food, at least as much as we can. I haven’t had a fresh tomato since last October, but it won’t be long now. We’ve got green tomatoes setting on several varieties, and blooms on even more plants. I pretty much know the entire supply chain for these tomatoes, because I sow the seed myself, plant the seedlings in the ground, and eat the tomatoes when ripe!


Early Girl tomatoes

We should have a few cucumbers even sooner. These little baby cukes in the photo below are growing in the greenhouse. It’s one of the few vegetables that will take the summertime heat in there. I’ve got more planted outside, but they haven’t started blooming yet.


Manny cucumbers in the greenhouse

And we generally have lettuce all the time, whenever we want it. We’ve harvested over 25 pounds of it already this year. The last of the spring greenhouse lettuce is almost big enough to eat.


Simpson Elite lettuce

And we’ve got a cold frame just full of tender lettuce. The cold frame is being used now for protection from the rabbits and deer.  The bare spot in the photo had a lettuce plant growing there. We had it for lunch yesterday.


lettuces in cold frame

By following generally accepted organic practices, using composted manures in the garden instead of fresh, and washing all produce before using, the home garden grower can take comfort that their homegrown produce is safe to eat – not to mention fresher and better tasting. And I, for one, am pretty happy about that.

Have a great day and grow those fruits and veggies yourself!

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11 Responses to Cucumbers, Tomatoes and E. Coli – Oh My

  1. Lynda says:

    The picture of the cukes should be in a magazine! I’m with you…haven’t had a tomato since November…can’t wait…soon!

    • Villager says:

      Thanks Lynda! But when I saw those cukes I wasn’t thinking magazine, I was thinking refrigerator pickles!

  2. So true. Our food system is pretty much broken. I also believe that growing your own food whenever possible is the best way to go for a variety of reasons and I’m so grateful to finally have some yard space where I can do just that. We also have a wonderful organic CSA program which sure does help.

    My 14 year old nephew just came home last week after spending a week on IV in the children’s hospital suffering from what the doctors called “one of the worst cases of salmonella we’ve ever seen.” He is better but still very ill and will not be able to finish the school year. It’s knocked his white blood cell count down terribly low and I’m sure it will take his body a while to fully recover.

    Needless to say, we’re glad he’s okay, but it really was frightening there for a while. Just another case for paying attention and giving concern to the source of our food, and what / where we choose to eat.

    On a lighter note, I agree – those cucumbers are adorable and should be in a magazine! Congrats on all the new growth over there!

    • Villager says:

      Gosh, that is terrible about your nephew. I hope he makes a full and speedy recovery. I’m sure that was quite a scare for you all.

      Organic CSA’s are becoming more and more popular. We have one here in our area that always has a waiting list. We chose to get in a meat CSA instead of trying to raise our own meat. It is possible if our bees do well that we will have honey to swap for something.

  3. I agree, the system is broken, and has been for some time. Not sure if you saw the Huffington Post piece the other day, but it was amusing, in a sad way. They resketched the White House garden plan, as if the only crops they could grow were from US Gov’t subsidized crops. Not a nutritious vegetable in sight, and a thoroughly sad statement on how unimportant we’ve made fresh, nutritious produce, in the American diet. It’s no great shock, at least to those of us that grow our own, why there are epidemics of diabetes and heart disease here. Then throw in tainted eggs, and E. coli contaminated produce, and it should make the average consumer want to throw up their hands. Sometimes though, I’m not convinced that most people are still all that concerned about where their food comes from, and I wonder what it will really take to finally fix our nation’s food supply. In the meantime…I’m heading back to to my vegetable garden. Fabulous looking cukes by the way, I haven’t even transplanted ours yet!

  4. Robin says:

    The issues with food seem to be getting worse. We are at the point of not eating certain things even when we are at a relative’s home for dinner. Not only does store bought food not taste good, it kind of makes my skin crawl just thinking about were it came from. We are lucky though to have a restaurant about 15 minutes away that only serves local organic food!

  5. Daphne says:

    I find it all sort of ironic. As technology has progressed we learned to preserve our food better and fewer and fewer people got sick from food poisoning. Now certain new technologies in food raising and processing are adding to our illness.

  6. LynnS says:

    I get more and more paranoid about produce in a store. Unknown point of origin, distribution network, handling, and growing are all factors with commercially raised produce. I like to keep it simple and grow it myself. lol

  7. “our food system is pretty much broken”

    One of the reasons we started growing our own food. And our found joy of seasonal eating is an added bonus. One just appreciates that tomato so much more when it isn’t available all the time (not that store bought tomatoes can compare anyhow); ditto for lettuce season, brassica season, etc.

    • Villager says:

      We’ve come to embrace seasonal eating as well. When I was growing up, that was our only option. The garden gives us a nice variety of goodies in every season, even winter.

  8. Mike R says:

    What really concerns me is that this happened in Germany. I have to believe that they are more fastidious in Europe then they are here about raising food. GMO foods are highly restricted there. We know what happened with the E coli outbreak in spinach in the US a few years ago – contamination of the soil with livestock feces. This must be a very virulent strain of E coli.

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