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Thoughts on food safety –
Most people have forgotten about the Listeriosis outbreak which occurred in September of 2011. As it turns out, 30 people died with 146 confirmed cases in 28 states caused from ingesting tainted cantaloupe. A handful of media outlets have continued to cover the investigation but I am surprised that the facts about one of the deadliest food outbreaks in the U.S. have been so poorly covered. Here are a few items I dug up recently from the Wall Street Journal, CNN and NPR:
* The FDA has 1,800 inspectors that are responsible for overseeing safety in over half a million produce processing facilities in and outside the U.S. This shortfall has lead to a third party audit system.
* One of these third party auditors inspected the offending site (Jensen Farms of Holly,Colorado) just days before the outbreak and gave them a 97% “Superior” grade. This is in spite of the fact that they were using a potato washer to wash melons. The inspector noted that “no anti-microbial solutions” were applied even though it’s an industry standard to do so.
* The latest food safety law, characterized as a “sweeping reform” by the Food and Drug Administration (The Food Safety Modernization Act), leaves untouched the problems that allowed Jensen Farms to distribute its tainted melons. Meanwhile, new efforts by members of Congress to fix the problems have gone nowhere, leaving potentially deadly gaps in the food safety inspection system.
* “Unfortunately we are going to see more of this,” says Mansour Samadpour, president of IEH food testing lab. He compares the third party audit system to a person who claims to be a physician, but only takes your pulse. “Even if they do the work properly, these are not food safety audits.”
I hope this information will encourage people to begin shopping at their local farmer’s markets more often. If you haven’t visited the Great Basin Community Food Co-op, give it a look, they sell loads of local stuff. Lastly, I realize that it is impractical to think that we can all grow all of our own produce, but I’m having a good time trying. I think I’ll go out back and pick a melon now….
Old Southwest Reno Harvest Swap and Barter Fair
Join us for the first of many to come! Saturday, September 8th from 4:00 until approximately 6:30 PM.
Things that will be great to bring: zucchini, tomatoes, fruit, beans, celery, honey, eggs, whatever abundance you find in your garden, homemade cookies, flowers, cool stuff you don’t need anymore, a bike, hats, books, an old baseball glove, etc.
Things that might be tough to trade: an elephant, a monster truck, a giant sequoia (although if it was in a pot, it would be perfect!)
1275 Fairfield Avenue, Reno 89509
No charge at all and if you don’t have anything to swap, just come and check it out!!!
No need to RSVP but if you have questions, feel free to call: Valarie at 775-250-2240
~ Stay tuned for the next harvest swap and Barter fair in October!
Heirloom Gardens is sponsoring the first annual Old Southwest/Newlands edible garden tour on Saturday, July 21. We are encouraging neighbors to get out on bike or by foot and check out each other’s gardens. Who better to show off our hard work to than those who can appreciate it most? ~ Other gardeners!
We here at Heirloom Gardens LOVE what you have done with your yard and we hope you will consider putting your home on the tour! We are focusing on edible landscapes and gardeners who have transformed yards into lush gardens, rich in diverse life and beauty. There is so much that can be done in Northern Nevada, and we think you have an exceptional example that should be shared with others.
Our vision is that we will create a map with a specific progressive route through the neighborhood. We are limiting the homes on the tour to a half mile radius. The tour will begin at 4:00 and end around 7:30 in an easy-paces casual style. All “Garden Tourists” will sign in at the first house and will receive a recognizable name tag. The price of admission will be only a donation to the Food Bank. We ask nothing of you other than that you open your gate and let us look (hopefully carefully) at your beautiful garden. We invite you to come along and take the rest of the tour with us. We all love to spend time in our gardens, to eat the fruits of our labors, and to share the techniques that seem to work (or not work) for us. This wonderful tour will give us just that opportunity.
Some of the homes on tour will be offering a drink or snack to garden tourists. If you are so inclined, feel free, but please don’t feel pressured, this is easy-going, nothing stuffy, meet the neighbors, relax and enjoy!
Please sign up by just hitting the ‘contact us’ button. [CONTACT-US-FORM] Please send us your name, address and telephone number.
Valarie and Dan Rider
What’s wrong with planting trees in turf?
When people think of trees they often mistakenly envision the root systems as a carbon copy of the canopy that appears above ground. That is, root systems seeking water and nutrients deep into the soil.
This is often not the case in Northern Nevada where soils are typically rocky, dry and deficient in organic matter. When trees are planted in grass their roots have no incentive to go deep. Assuming the lawn’s in good shape all the water and nutrition a tree needs exist in the top 18 inches of soil and that’s exactly where the roots will grow. Some pictures are worth a thousand words and I think these photos do just that.
For many people this is already a problem and rather than simply saying, “Don’t do this” we do have a few tips.
Dig a tree well (remove the grass and leave a depression) several feet from the base of the tree. Fill the depression with quality compost and cover with mulch.
Water trees slowly, deeply and less frequently. Their needs are different from the surrounding lawn.
Stay away from 2-4D, Weed-B-Gone is the most popular culprit. The same ingredient that kills broad leafs such as dandelions and clover also kills, guess what, wait for it, TREES!!!!
It’s unfortunate that by the time you see symptoms of stress in your trees, it’s often too late to correct the condition. We’re happy to help if you’re concerned.