[Market-farming] Market-farming GAP/spinach

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Sat Sep 16 20:55:57 EDT 2006

OK, I take back the comment about the audit trail. Since then, I've 
seen reports to the effect that a) some of the trouble identifying the 
source was because some of the ill people, while they remembered eating 
bagged spinach, didn't remember what brand it was or where they bought 
it (a problem no audit trail will fix, at least unless the audit trail 
recordkeeping is also inflicted on the final customer, who is unlikely 
to put up with this, or so I hope); and also that b) at least some of 
the infected spinach was organic.

If the problem was indeed caused by use of fresh manure on a greens 
crop for human consumption, they're in violation of the organic 
standards, which prohibit this, and should be decertified immediately 
(though don't hold your breath on the USDA permitting the certifying 
agency to decertify any operation of that size, for any reason). 
However, as near as I can tell, those blaming manure use are leaping to 
confusions (yes, that's the word I meant). I don't know whether the 
source of the pathogen is actually known yet. I heard this morning at 
market (from a reliable person, though I forgot to ask for the cite as 
to where she saw it) that the problem had been traced to one packing 
house, and that both organic and conventional spinach bagged there was 
implicated. This, if so, might well imply that in addition to their 
other problems the facility may not have been properly segregating the 
organic and conventional packing lines; but I suppose they might have a 
systemic problem with, for example, their wash water. Another poster on 
this list suggests that the problem may be from polluted floodwaters in 
the Salinas Valley; if it's that, I would presume that more than one 
packing operation will wind up being connected with the operation; at 
least unless all the Salinas spinach in industrial distribution all 
goes through one plant.

Twenty or thirty people must have said to me this morning at market, 
"Too bad you don't have any spinach to sell"!

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale

On Sep 16, 2006, at 11:20 AM, Tradingpost wrote:

> It appears the problem is in bagging moist greens in airtight bags, an
> obvious invitation to pathogen growth, rather than safe use of manure 
> in
> the field.
> paul tradingpost at lobo.net
> Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
> --Henry David Thoreau
> *********** REPLY SEPARATOR  ***********
> On 9/15/2006 at 7:54 PM road's end farm wrote:
>> On Sep 15, 2006, at 1:58 PM, nancy a parker wrote:
>>> Will these rules apply to the Farm Market producers also? \Our market
>>> just got in the WIC program so I assume certification will be 
>>> required?
>>> Nancy, Sulphur Hill Farm garden
>>> _______________________________________________
>> The WIC program (I think you mean the FMNP coupons, which at least in
>> New York are available both through WIC and to many senior citizens) 
>> is
>> a different sort of thing entirely. As far as I know GAP certification
>> isn't required for this, or for any farmer's market sales.
>> I coordinate FMNP for our market, and am on New York's Ag and Market
>> mailing list for this; so I think I would know if they were requiring
>> it. I'll post on the list (after I bounce off the ceiling) if they 
>> tell
>> me it's necessary.
>> That said, wash your hands and test your produce wash water. It's a
>> good idea.
>> Sure wish I had some spinach to sell right now -- it would be a great
>> chance for one version of the why-to-buy-locally-grown rap. Somebody
>> somewhere in the mass market food system didn't wash their hands or
>> didn't test the wash water and now there are people sick in eight
>> states and the headlines are telling everybody not to eat bagged
>> spinach. They don't know where the contaminated spinach came from, at
>> least so far; only organic growers have to do audit trail. (Sigh.)
>> -- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
>> Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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